The hen house, a maker’s plate and an optical illusion

When we moved to our present house, back in 1976, there was a rather derelict hen house already there.

image002It looks beyond it, but we renovated that hut, moved it to a more convenient location and had it in use for some years but one of those hefty storms of the 1980s blew it all over the place and it was way beyond repair. Our hens had to move elsewhere until we got a replacement.

I have preserved – or perhaps just kept – one small part of it. And that’s the maker’s plate.


It was made by F Pratten and Co of Midsomer Norton.

For me, in my working life as a teacher, the name ‘Pratten’ became a synonym for ‘mobile classroom’. I do not know if they were all made by this Somerset firm or whether some early ones were and the maker’s name stuck.

Sadly, the business closed down in the 1990s after some 80 or so years of making such buildings.

By the way, the maker’s plate is just a piece of pressed sheet metal. The other side, not normally seen because it was fixed to the hen house is an indented mirror image of the front.


You might see an optical illusion here. I know this is the back and the letters are indented. But sometimes they very definitely look to be raised. I’ve mirror imaged the reverse of this plate and I struggle to see that as it really is.



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2 Responses to “The hen house, a maker’s plate and an optical illusion”

  1. Peter Thompson Says:

    Hello – I wondered if you would be prepared to give your permission for your photograph of the Pratten maker’s plate to be used in the Wikipedia page about the company?:

    Your photo captures a lovely piece of social history. My old primary school like many had a “temporary” Pratten classroom that it kept for many years beyond the expected life span. Now I live yards away from the site of the old Pratten factory in Midsomer Norton. As you indicate in your blog, the Pratten name became synonymous with those temporary classrooms that so many people experienced in the post-war years. I think your picture would enhance the Wikpedia article.

    Wikipedia is of course a not-for-profit site so nobody would make financial profit from your photo.

    If you agree then I could upload your photo to Wikimedia Commons from where it could be added to the article.

    Hope that is ok, let me know if you have any queries at all about this.


    Pete Thompson

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