The Men’s Shed Movement: The Company of Men, BOOK DETAIL



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.

Cost in Australia, purchased or ordered via Barry Golding, A$40, postage within Australia A$10 extra for between one and four books (posted to New Zealand, A$63): for orders and payment options, contact


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


  • Chapter 6: Australian Men’s Sheds
  • Chapter 7: Irish Men’s Sheds (John Evoy, Anne Mcdonnell & Barry Golding)
  • Chapter 8: UK Men’s Sheds ( Barry Golding & Mike Jenn)
  • Chapter 9: New Zealand Men’s Sheds (Barry Golding & Neil Bruce)


  • Chapter 10:  Research evidence from Men’s Sheds
  • Chapter 11 Men’s Shed theory and practice
  • Chapter 12: Men’s shed issues, trends & possibilities

The book’s Appendix includes a list all 1,416 community Men’s Sheds open globally to May 2015 and the 100+ articles published about Men’s Sheds.

Are you interested to learn more about this remarkable Men’s Shed Movement globally?

 Are you interested to know more about Men’s Shed innovation and diversity in community settings in four countries Australia, Ireland, the UK and New Zealand, all with active national Movements?

 Do you want to read about how and where the Movement started, who was involved, and how and where the Movement has spread globally?

 Are you interested to learn from the experience of over 80 diverse Men’s Sheds in four countries?

 Do you want to know how and why over 1,400 diverse Men’s Sheds organisations are already embraced by men and communities across the world?

 Then this book is for you

This 454 page book documents for the first time (with evidence):

  • how and why the first community Sheds were created in South Australia during the 1990s
  • the fascinating ‘birth’ of the first ‘Men’s Sheds’ elsewhere in Australia during 1998-9
  • the way the first early Men’s Sheds joined up, the Movement gained traction, forming national and state associations in Australia in the following decade
  • how Sheds have quite recently (since 2008) ‘escaped’ to and thrived in Ireland, the UK and New Zealand, to form robust, new national associations
  • what research says about the value and impact of community Men’ Sheds including men’s experiences as ‘shedders’.

 This book includes:

  • 11 national (Australian, Irish, UK and NZ) maps, 6 Australian state maps plus a list of all 1,416 community Men’s Sheds open globally to mid-2015
  • 35 photographs plus 15 historic documents from early Men’s Sheds globally.
  • a list and analysis of over 100 research articles about Men’s Sheds
  • 92 Shed and Men’s Shed case studies, one half from Australia, with around 15 each from Ireland, the UK and New Zealand
  • 45 ‘early’ Men’s Shed case studies, plus 15 ‘innovative’ case studies, 16 ‘remarkable’ case studies and 15 ‘new or cutting edge’ case studies across four countries
  • serious consideration of issues, trends and possibilities for Men’s Sheds globally.

This major, independent piece of global scholarship includes:

  • endorsement by the four national Men’s Sheds associations: in Australia (AMSA), Ireland (IMSA), the UK (UKMSA) and New Zealand (MENZSHED NZ). All assisted with the histories and case studies and contributed to the preface, as well as with the writing and checking of the four national chapters.
  • co-authorship of the Irish chapter by John Evoy, foundation CEO of IMSA (assisted by Anne McDonnell); of the UK chapter by Mike Jenn, founder of UKMSA, and the New Zealand chapter by Dr Neil Bruce, a foundation Board Member of MENZSHED NZ
  • endorsement by Mark Thomson, well known Australian author of several books about backyard and personal men’s sheds starting with Blokes and Sheds in 1995.

Endorsements of The Men’s Shed Movement Book

Mark Thomson: Widely published author about Australian (backyard) sheds since Blokes and Sheds (1995):

The Men’s Shed Movement book charts the rise of a remarkable social Movement from its unlikely origins in the backyards and streets of Australia to a global trend. As an insider in the creation of an immense network of community Sheds and meeting places, Barry Golding brings a unique perspective to a fascinating story. He reveals the immense untapped potential that lies within the grasp of ordinary citizens looking for connection and involvement in modern life and how they organized themselves into a powerful social force. The best part is that the Men’s Shed story is still evolving. A timely and useful history.

Ted Donnelly: Founder of the best known early Men’s Shed in Australia in Lane Cove, Sydney, Australia, first President of the Australian Men’s Shed Association and widely respected ‘Grandfather’ of Men’s Sheds:

Although Men’s Sheds have existed for a relatively short time there are many different versions of their history, because accurate factual information has not been available. This book, which for the first time definitively details and analyses the growth and development of Sheds in Australia, and now overseas, is very timely. Nobody is more qualified to write it than Barry Golding. Barry’s research into Men’s Sheds from their earliest days has given him a very wide range of contacts and information to access the data for this book. He has meticulously verified his data with the key people who were involved in the early development stages using original documents. The work that Barry has put into this book is impressive. This will become a very valuable resource for all involved in any way with Men’s Sheds.

 David Helmers: CEO of Australian Men’s Shed Association (AMSA):

This important book confirms that Men’s Sheds in community settings did not happen overnight. It does three things. Firstly, it carefully honours and acknowledges the early Men’s Shed ‘pioneers’ in Australia and other countries that the Movement has since spread to. Secondly, it charts the incredible diversity of Men’s Sheds. Thirdly, it considers the emerging evidence base about the wider value of the Movement and Men’s Sheds to men and the wider community. It is very important after two decades to accurately tell this story: about how and where it happened, why it happened, who participates and with what benefits, as well as where this remarkable international Movement might now be headed. This knowledge is very important and timely for the future of Men’s Sheds.

 John Evoy: to early 2015, Founding CEO Irish Men’s Sheds Association (IMSA):

On behalf of the Shedders from across the Island of Ireland I would like to thank and congratulate our friend, Barry Golding, on the creation of this very valuable and insightful resource. It diligently outlines the growth and development of the Men’s Sheds Movement across the globe. The arrival of Men’s Sheds in Ireland was perfectly timed in terms of helping us manage some of the challenges we faced economically over the last number of years. This book outlines their evolution here including the tremendous support and guidance we received from our Australian friends who blazed a trail that we followed.

 Mike Jenn: President of UK Men’s Sheds Association (UKMSA) and founder of the Camden Town Men’s Shed in London, the first ‘grassroots’ Men’s Shed in the UK:

Men’s Sheds have hit a nail on the head in a very timely and powerful way. The nail in this case is the need many men feel, particularly following retirement, to recreate critically important aspects of their former workplaces: particularly the social interaction, having a purpose, being able to learn and share experiences, as well as engage with tools, materials and ideas. This book documents how men and women have got together and created the resources and facilities needed. It chronicles how the idea has spread across the world, with remarkable success, and how the Men’s Shed Movement has continued to evolve and develop. This book greatly informs and assists with this process.

Ray Hall: President of MENZSHED New Zealand:

MENZSHED NZ acknowledges the value of this timely book, which carefully places the Men’s Shed Movement, including its development in New Zealand in the past decade, in its wider international context. It illustrates what has been achieved in New Zealand, when the simple but powerful concept of a Men’s Shed in a community setting has been picked up, developed and implemented by a wide range of community groups. It charts the remarkable and rapid spread of Men’s Sheds across New Zealand, achieved through the efforts of both men and women, mostly volunteers, working by establishing trusts or incorporated societies, gaining charitable status, getting building approvals and bringing together potential shedders. This has been achieved in the absence of central government funding, but supported by local councils and providers of community funding, acknowledging the huge value and potential benefits.

Author and Editor, Professor Barry Golding

  • is an Adjunct Professor of Education in the Faculty of Education and Arts, Federation University Australia, Ballarat.
  • has extensive research experience in all adult learning sectors.
  • is a world expert on informal learning by men through participation in community organisations (see Men Learning through Life, 2014, NIACE)
  • has completed many national and international studies of men’s learning and wellbeing through community participation particularly through men’s sheds
  • is the most widely published and cited author (of 33 research publications) about Men’s Sheds, one third of the global total.
  • is honorary Patron of the Australian Men’s Shed Association.
  • is a Board Member and past President of Adult Learning Australia.




Author: barrygoanna

Honorary Professor, Federation University Australia: researcher in men's learning through community contexts, author of 'Men learning through life' 2014) book (NIACE, UK), 'The Men's Shed Movement: The Company of Men' (2015) & 'Shoulder to Shoulder: Broadening the Men's Shed Movement' (2021) books, both published Common Ground Publishing, US.

3 thoughts on “The Men’s Shed Movement: The Company of Men, BOOK DETAIL”

  1. Hi Barry

    Great to hear the book is going ahead. It will be very useful. Also the European material is a useful addition too.

    We are having a meeting tomorrow afternoon of the Glasgow Men’s Sheds Association – they have been making good progress. There are plans for sheds in Easterhouse and Helensburgh and they have been having community meetings.

    Guess its not long now till your trip

    Best regards


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    Graham Hills Building ,40 George Street, Glasgow . G1 1QE
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