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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

The Great Armstrong Hut Debate!


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Hi. So I'm in my final few months of writing a PhD thesis which surveys nearly every hut designed during the First and Second World Wars. It's an enormous project. What has become clear while working on huts of the First World War is that there are several differing opinions in regards to what constitutes an Armstrong Hut. Some say it was the timber/corrugated metal construction from August 1914. Others say it was a timber and canvas hut that came a little later. I know this forum has some excellent researchers and a vast amount of knowledge. I'm hoping someone might be able to help clarify, and better yet, have an images or plans to illustrate. :) 


The problem is this: The Armstrong Hut does not seem to be the ones Major Armstrong originally designed for the War Office in August 1914... These are also known as War Office Type Plan BD85A/14. The Director of Fortifications and Works, Major-General Scott-Moncrieff, confirms this in his 1924 article 'The Hutting Problem in the War' (Royal Engineers Journal). He says it was only later that Armstrong "produced the well-known 'Armstrong Hut' which, constructed in sections was made in workshops and sent out ready-made to any proposed site and rapidly erected." (p. 364). So the Armstrong Type Plan Hut for the War Office was constructed of timber and corrugated metal sheeting. I have several images of these at camps all over England (Belton Park, Alnwick, etc). 


Separately, in the Work of the Royal Engineers in the European War, there is a plan for an Armstrong Hut No. 4. It appears to be entirely of timber construction, not canvas. 


So, does anyone have any images or plans to accurately document an Armstrong Hut that is different from his Type Plan Huts for the War Office? 


I will attach a picture of what I think could possibly be an example of one of his canvas and timber huts... As well as the plan for Hut No. 4. And finally, a picture of Armstrong's Type Plan huts for the War Office as built at Belton Park. 


Thanks in advance for any and all help!




BattleofSomme-FranceSept1916-© IWM (Q 1204).jpg



Edited by kld50
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  • 1 year later...

Hi Karey, there were huts similar to the Belton examples at Ballykinlar Camp in NI- we are aiming to recreate one at Down County Museum next year as a way of telling the occupants' stories. What conclusion did you come to in your PhD? is this type a genuine Armstrong hut of 1914? We are looking for plans - do you, know where I can locate them? many thanks! Mike King, Down County Museum

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  • 1 month later...

Hi Kid50  please see some huts at High Lodge in Suffolk erected it is believed in 1929 as a accommodation for out of work people with a view to re training them in Agriculture & Forestry. 

High Lodge Camp 1929-30.jpg

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  • 2 years later...

For what it's worth. the A shape tent /hut pictured with 4th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment is most likely a Doeker Hut - The design was about for some time before WW1 so how the Yorkshire Regt ended up with some is an interesting question in itself . But it is one of a several designs of portable buildings patented back in 1880's by  Johan Doecker (eg US patent 308833), who was a Danish Army Officer - the various designs including a more conventional style barrack hut were produced by a Danish manufacturer Christoph & Unmack who sold them to several European armed forces (inc France, Italy ... and Germany!) and evidently keeping all their bases covered , also to the Red Cross - who used them as field& isolation hospitals from circa 1890's onward - including during the Boer War.

IMHO probably the larger hut  is the Armstrong - (if so, aptly named as it appears to need about 40 blokes to shift it)


Edited by FlamingOnion
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Also came across these huts a while back whilst trawling the IWM site on another task  - that are similar basic A shape but appear all wood construction, some shown  with canvas tarp covered roof  - including one used by BEF in a picture taken 1915 (IWM Q49833)  - the others also IWM located apparently over a trench rather than on flat ground - (but unfortunately have mislaid the IWM references since)




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Many thanks for the link, a most interesting read on a neglected subject -  back in my youth I spent many draughty hours in some of those types that were still being used as a local village  hall/scout hut - even had the remains of air-raid shelters outside .

As for the pics I posted, on close examination I think they  show two different hut types - they look similar - but the ones being used by the BEF in 1915 are different in shape, and closely resemble the portable huts  being sold for agricultural use prior to WW1  - designs that could easily adapt to military use .

As for the others, apart from the addition of weather-boarded ends, they look to be the same size and design as the wood frame hut being hefted about in Karey's IWM picture - a basic wood frame shelter with canvas roof cover.  Can't have been much fun to live in but better than nothing.

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  • 6 months later...

Hello All,

It seems I am a bit late to the party.

But here goes anyway 

As is my want I have been reading a good few books written by WW1 nurses and the "Armstrong hut " keeps coming up , Not the large accommodation hut but a small type

that sleeps many be two ? certainly its often just one ( particularly in Kate Luards Unknown warriors book) .

So being an Ex RE Clerk of Works I fell down a hut rabbit hole and found out the square root of nothing .

So what does one look like ? what size was it ?

Looking forward to some info

cheers Jack

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Dear all,

Thank you so much for your comments amd insights - even if several years later! I’m afraid I lost track of this message board years ago and was only alerted when Jack messaged me directly. I have only just started to revisit my thesis again after finishing it in 2017, but would like to get it published now so the jnformation is more easily accessible to those with an interest. I think any personal stories/images of living in huts during the First and/or Second World Wars would make it immensely more interesting a topic for those interesting in the social wartime history rather than just buildings.

If anyone has any queries or insight - and I somehow don’t see the posts pop up here - do feel free to contact me directly at karey7@mac.com.  

All best


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