Sheds South Australia

South Australia / December 15, 2019

Barry Golding’s most recent (2015) research and writing project:

The Men’s Shed Movement: The Company of Men

Common Ground Publishing, Champaign, Illinois, published August 2015

This book tells the story of how men’s sheds actually got a foothold in community spaces, originally in Australia, and how it has become a Movement in several other countries. There are many myths, legends and quite a few half truths. There is an ongoing debate about ‘which sheds were first’. My short answer before writing the book has been that wherever a new shed pops up, it is always first in some way, and certainly the first in that location or community to meet the needs of the men whose unique interests and need to ‘do stuff’ together (whatever that stuff might be), for the good of other men and the community.

I have sometimes joked that akin to ‘Aladdin and his Lamp’, someone rubbed the lamp and the first community Men Shed popped out. The real story in the book is much more interesting, and has diverse and fascinating strands, many of them starting to come together as community -‘Sheds’ in rural South Australia in the 1990s, a few years before the first named ‘Men’s Sheds’ opened in Tongala (Victoria) and Lane Cove in New South Wales (in July and December in 1998 respectively), with others appearing in Port Augusta and Bendigo during 1999.

There were only around 30 Men’s Sheds in the world a decade ago (before 2005). By May 2015 there were 1, 416 Men’s Sheds open globally. All are mapped and listed by name in the book. The list includes 933 Men’s Sheds in Australia, 273 across the Island of Ireland (including 16 in Northern Ireland), 148 elsewhere in the UK (England, Scotland and Wales) and 57 in New Zealand. By September 2015 several Men’s Sheds, with an appropriate cultural accommodation) were open in Denmark (called Maens Modesteder) and Sweden (in Malmö) and at least five were open in Canada.

Part II of the book provides a carefully researched ‘Community Men’s Shed History’, explaining how Men’s Sheds originated and spread, first in Australia, then across Ireland, the UK and New Zealand as well as very recently to Canada, Denmark and Sweden. Part 3 illustrates the remarkable ‘Men’s Shed Innovation and Diversity’ using national case studies. Part IV summarises the research evidence about participants and outcomes, explains its implications for shed practice and identifies some current trends an future possibilities.

Generous assistance and information have been provided by each of the four main national men’s shed associations, particularly from David Helmers and Ted Donnelly (AMSA in Australia), Mike Jenn (UKMSA in the UK), Anne McDonnell and John Evoy (IMSA in Ireland) and Neil Bruce and MENZSHED NZ in New Zealand. This new book about The Men’s Shed Movement includes brief histories of some of the earliest sheds in each country. In an attempt to give readers an idea of the depth and breadth sheds and shedder practice, the book also documents sheds that have been particularly ‘innovative’ or ‘remarkable’, as well as those that are quite recent (opened post 2010) and that might be regarded as ‘new or cutting edge’.

The book was published in August 2015 (by Common Ground Publishing in Champaign, Illinois in the US). It will be formally launched in Europe at ESREA Research conferences in Belgrade, Serbia and Jonkoping Sweden on 10 and 15 October, as well as at AMSA’s Australian Men’s Shed Conference, in Newcastle on 19 October 2015.

A special, Victorian and local public book launch, called ‘Bringing it all back home’ will take place in the Tongala Men’s Shed, on 16 November at 1pm, just over 17 years after the first Men’s Shed was launched there in July 1998. Dr Sharman Stone, MHR for Murray who originally opened the shed as The Dick McGowan Men’s Shed is returning to launch the book. The event is supported by VMSA and AMSA and hosted by the Tongala Aged Care Centre that auspices the Men’s She. The event is open to the public and shedders are particularly welcome.

A one day event organised by SAMSA and hosted by the Alexandrina Centre in Goolwa, South Australia on 30 October, A Celebration of the Shed, will celebrate the role of many early South Australian Sheds, including ‘The Shed’ in Goolwa, opened there in February 1993. David Helmers, AMSA CEO and John Evoy, Founding CEO of the Irish Men’s Shed Assocation are also participating, as well as Mark Thomson, well known Blokes and Sheds author. It will conclude with the South Australian launch of the book and unveiling of a plaque to commemorate The Shed, opened in 1993: the first ever opened by that name in a community setting 22 years ago. Maxine Chaseling (formerly Kitto) who played an important founding role is returning to Goolwa for the event. This event is also welcome to the public and is being supported by several regional South Australian Men’s Sheds.

The book’s completion and launch takes place a decade after the first national Men’s Shed Conference in Lakes Entrance, Victoria, Australia in 2005, and only around two decades after the first handful of community Sheds began to emerge in, mainly in rural South Australia from 1993 (until late 1998 without ‘Men’ in the organisation title). If that whets your appetite, you will likely enjoy the book. …

The writing and researching has been made possible by the generosity of spirit of many Men’s Sheds, passionate and experienced shed practitioners (‘shedders’) and experts across several nations. Many people have been keen to get this untold story out: about community Men’s Shed history, innovation and diversity as well as evidence of impact, as summarised in the Chapter headings, below.

Book cost via Common Ground Website US$30, Ebook US$10, Postage Extra.


Chapter 1: Nailing down the Men’s Shed basics


  • Chapter 2: Coming out of the backyard shed in Australia
  • Chapter 3: Early Australian Men’s Sheds and state associations
  • Chapter 4: The Men’s Shed Movement in Australia
  • Chapter 5: The Men’s Shed Movements in Ireland, the UK & New Zealand & Elsewhere