A woman whose parents shelled out £500 for a wooden beach hut has seen its value skyrocket to a staggering £400,000.
But Sarah Thomas has vowed never to sell the sought-after beach cottage even though it’s worth as much as her home.
Her parents, Jean and Peter Purvis, purchased the beach hut at Mudeford in Christchurch Harbour, Dorset, in 1965 using a £400 inheritance from her grandfather.
At the time, they couldn’t afford to go on a family vacation and so thought the next best thing would be to have a little hole next to a sandy beach.
Their three children – Sarah, Jane and Rob – grew up with all their family vacations there and did not travel abroad until adulthood.
Hut 178 has been in the family for nearly 60 years, with four generations of them making summer memories there.
At the time, there was an explosion in the price of beach huts in Mudeford, which is now the most expensive place in the UK to buy them.
Although none of the 360 huts there have running water, mains electricity or showers, they are so expensive due to their remote location.
The exclusive peninsula is cut off from traffic and the only way to get there is by foot, a land train or a short ferry ride across the harbor.
Sarah was the registered owner of the hut after Jean died in 2020, though she still shares it with siblings Jane, 62, and Rob, 54.
NOT FOR SALE
And although they could sell the hut tomorrow and pocket a third of the £400,000, Sarah, 58, says she would never dream of it.
She plans to one day pass it on to her nieces and nephews, who she accepts, possibly selling it to help them buy a home in the future.
“We’re not a wealthy family and we certainly can’t buy a hut at today’s prices,” Sarah said.
“Mudeford is considered a playground for the rich today, but there are still quite a few huts here that have been owned by families for generations.
“We never thought about selling it. We have so many happy memories of it.
“When it goes to the next generation, they might want to, then the money can be used to buy a house. But now they’re in their 20s and don’t want to sell it yet.
“I always tell my family to never forget the fact that it only costs £500.”
Growing up, the Purvis family lived in Michelmersh, near Romsey, Hants, but spent most weekends and school holidays from April to October at their beloved beach hut.
Sarah, who now lives in West Wellow, near Romsey, said: ‘My mother was not rich, my grandfather wanted to split the inheritance so he gave my mother and my aunt £400 each.
“My aunt bought a car from her, but after carefully considering the cost of family holidays, my mother saved an extra £100 and bought a Hut 178 in 1965.
It has been a part of our family all my life.
“I was just born or wasn’t far away when she bought it, it’s been part of our family for the rest of my life.
“When the season starts, around Easter, we go every weekend and holiday.
“We will go down after school on Friday and I usually go to school with sand on my head on Mondays because we come home very late on Sunday.
“In the summer we would be down there all six weeks and only come home occasionally to pick some vegetables.
“Dad would stay home during the week, go to work, and then come to us for the weekend.
“Our hut was in the middle of a row so we could look out over the creek and the bridge and we could see him coming and all running down to greet him.
“He will bring us a can of Coca-Cola, dry roasted peanuts and a liter of Liebfraumilch for him and his mother.
“My dad doesn’t like life on the beach – the water is too cold and he doesn’t like the sand on the bed – but Mom does.
“We have formed many friendships over the years. My brother has a group of friends sailing and fishing that he would disappear with for hours.
“Our childhood was before we showered so we used to go to the pool in Christchurch to shower or I would wash my hair under cold water on the beach.
‘WE JUST FEEL REALLY LUCKED’
“There’s no running water in the huts. We have a big plastic bucket and it was our job as children to fill it up from the cold tap. Luckily we were close to the restroom.
“We have a solar panel now but back then we had a small gas lamp with a wick inside it.
“And now we have a gas oven and a grill but mom usually manages to feed us on the grill and two rings, everything is cooked in the pot.
“We stop going on vacation every weekend when we have jobs. But I didn’t have my first vacation abroad until I was 18 and my brother didn’t have until his honeymoon when he was about 24 years old. .
“I carry a small portable television with me now if I’m traveling alone, but as children we didn’t feel missed out, we just felt really lucky.
“We have grown up with a wonderful legacy to pass on to our children and hope that Mudeford remains a magical place.
“There’s no such sense of community right now as a lot of them have been sold and some are rented out to others throughout the season.”
RECORD PRICE FOR A BEACH HUT
The hut next to the Thomas-Purvis family was for sale for a record £575,000 in September 2021.
The price it sells for has never been revealed but it is said to be the most expensive hut on the vacant lot.
Although Sarah and Alwyn didn’t pay anything for their hut, they still have to pay a fee of £3,800 a year to the local council who owns the land.
“The rates are so expensive right now. Our rates have gone up 15 percent this year, so we let our friends use it and they contribute to us,” Sarah said.