THE SUMMER house in which Philip Pullman wrote Northern Lights and the Didcot railway building built by Brunel have been nominated for the coveted crown of Shed of the Year.
The outbuilding where Mr Pullman wrote his Dark Materials trilogy while living in Cutteslowe is now in the Summertown garden of fellow author Ted Dewan.
Mr Dewan, originally from Massachusetts, asked Mr Pullman if he could have the hut when the latter moved to his current home in Cumnor in 2002.
The Northern Lights author offered to give the shed for free, but with the lasting covenant that wherever the building ended up, for the rest of its life it should only ever be used for creative endeavours.
They dismantled the building and carted it across the city to rebuild it, slightly altered, in Mr Dewan’s garden in Beech Croft Road.
Mr Dewan, who has used the shed to pen some of his well-loved Bing the bunny books, said he was excited to tell the story of his sacred shrine as it enters the running to be named the very best in the UK.
The 56-year-old went on: “This is the crucible from which some of the greatest literature in Britain emerged, and what makes is so remarkable is that it is so humble.
“This competition is really about the shed: it would be nice for the shed as an entity to win the title.”
The other Oxfordshire finalist from this year’s shortlist of 32 stretches the definition of a shed so much that it has been nominated in a new category for 2017, the #notashed group.
The enormous Transfer Shed at Didcot Railway Centre was built by Great Western Railway architect Isambard Kingdom Brunel in the 1850s, in a different part of the town.
At a time when the original broad gauge railways were being replaced by the new standard gauge track, the building was used to physically transfer loads of goods from train to train.
The shed was eventually dismantled and rebuilt at the railway centre in the 1980s where it now serves as a time machine back to Brunel’s Britain.
Centre manager Roger Orchard said: “You’d struggle to fit this shed into your back garden, but we wanted to use the opportunity of the competition to show people there is more to the railway centre than just steam engines.”
The winners of the nationwide Shed of the Year competition, sponsored by Cuprinol, will be revealed in Channel 4’s Amazing Spaces Shed of the Year this summer, presented by George Clarke.
Shed fans can vote for their favourite sheds online at readersheds.co.uk until Friday, June 2.