The start of something big for small-scale living

PETER ANDREWS has just added to the long list of British eccentricities. He's formed the Secret Shed and Handmade Hideaway Society - and is hoping that it will soon become a familiar name to all but a dedicated troglodyte.

SSHHS has been launched to bring together people who believe in building small-scale structures, he explains. And Mr Andrews, who runs an ecology books business in Bath, says firmly that "the purpose of the organisation is fun".

He has been discussing building small edifices, sheds and buildings with readers through his books.

Now, after years of talking, he has got serious about it.

He thinks it is time to bring together all those who agree that, for example, a small house can be built using, say, motor tyres - but who run into problems whenever they try to put such an out-of-the-ordinary idea into practice.

Mr Andrews wonders why, if people in the United States and Australia can build such structures, it cannot be done here. Bureaucracy, he believes, is to blame.

Mr Andrews, who is running an advertising campaign for his new venture, reckons he will be signing up a good numbers of members - even though, when asked about the advent of SSHHS, an Institute of Housing official said loftily: "I have never heard this name before."

For prospective members, rules are quite simple. Anybody interested in joining has to send a photograph or a drawing of their building, describing why and out of what it was constructed.

If you have put up a structure using those motor tyres or even video tapes, you are in - and the small is beautiful outlook is good.

Mr Andrews' phone hasn't stopped buzzing since SSHHS left the drawing board.