A RETIRED firefighter who built a fire station-themed man cave in his back garden in Anna Valley has been crowned winner of Britain's best Pub Shed of the Year.

Kevin Francis spent several months and around £3,000 constructing the stunning DIY back garden boozer at his home.

The Engine House comes complete with its own pole, vintage uniforms, a hose and a fully working bar which he rescued from a fire station before it was demolished.

It also stocks a selection of home-brewed fire-themed beers such as a golden ale called Brass Helmet, a ruby ale called Old Steamer and a stout called Smokey.

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Andover Advertiser: Kevin Francis, a retired firefighter, has turned his shed into a pub replicaThe 51-year-old spent years collecting equipment, photographs and memorabilia during more than three decades working for Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire Service.

But when his wife told him to clear out all the firefighting memorabilia in the loft he set to work on the replica of the station where he worked with his dad.

Dad-of-two Kevin has now beat off more than a thousand entries to be named the owner of Britain's best Pub Shed 2023.

He said of his win: "I'm really excited and pleased. It was pure elation and I was really, really happy and gave everyone lots of hugs.

"They were broadcasting live on Two Fat Blokes radio saying they were outside the winner's house - and then they suddenly came walking down my garden path.

"There was a massive cheer.

"They came over with a live DJ and we partied on until 11pmish with family and friends.

"I was congratulated by the runners up so, of course, a big congratulations to them as well.

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Andover Advertiser: "In the back of your mind you think you've won it, but then maybe you think you haven't.

"But it was a complete surprise until they walked down the garden path.

"We're off to a fire memorabilia sale next week in Rochdale so we'll see what items I can get to add to it."

Kevin’s wife Kim spurred him on to build the shed in 2017 after their loft became taken over with firefighting memorabilia.

He spent 33 years in the fire service before retiring this May and had collected anything related to his time serving as a fireman.

The grandad-of-one reckons he’s forked out close to £3,000 on the build, but considers his labour of love a bargain compared to what some cost.

​Kevin, who now works for the ambulance service, added: "I built it all from scratch.

"I had a rough drawing and from the time I started in January it was up and built in a few weeks.

“The idea came from me and my dad both being in the fire service for a number of years.

"We had both been given a lot of memorabilia, photos etc and it ended up in the loft.

"My wife said it was taking over the loft and said I needed to get rid of it.

“In the end I said why don’t I build something I can store it in. I said if I can make it like a fire station it will fit quite well.

"But I don’t know if I meant for it to be as big as it is.”

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Kevin’s mum and dad, Mervyn and Linda, helped him build the now award-winning shed and helped him model it on the Grayshott station that they worked at.

Kevin added: “When you first walk in there there’s fire uniforms from the Victorian times with wool tunics and axes all the way up to the kit I used to wear until I retired.

“There’s model fire engines and hydrant signs, just bits I had collected.

“In the bar area I tried to make it like it was in a little village somewhere.

"I’ve tried to keep it authentic as possible. The bar was from Basingstoke fire station, which I helped build. I asked if I could have it.

“It still holds fond memories from work for me.

“I have a beer cupboard where I brew and make my own beer.

“Since it was built originally I've added a tower to it. It has a clock in it. We have a hose in it. We're still adding bits to it now.

“Before Covid it was used as a place for friends and family for parties, every year we do a charity party in the garden.

"And during the pandemic it was a great place for me and the family to go to the pub. It gave us a space away from the house.

“Although I built it for myself, I obviously built it for other people to enjoy too and any fellow shed-lovers are welcome to take a look.”

The Engine House beat off an Only Fools and Horses tribute called the Nags Shed and an Irish-themed pub called The Irish Pirate.

The annual competition was organised by Drinkstuff.com and Twofatblokes.co.uk and attracted more than 4,800 public votes.

Ashley Turner, from Two Fat Blokes Bar Sign Emporium, said: "The Engine House won the judges over with the fantastic attention to detail and the huge collection of memorabilia and all in a workshop shed.

"The Engine House just looks like a pub, a real inspiration to all fellow 'pub shedders'.

"The judges were really impressed with the way Kevin has pulled the theme of this amazing back garden pub together.

"This is the perfect essence of the Drinkstuff.com - Pub Shed of the year competition and a worthy winner.

"Two Fat Blokes Bar Signs have also designed a custom bar sign for Kevin featuring a fire engine that will be presented to him."