Newsletter March 2018

Hello everyone,

Well it’s been a strange warm and wet Winter and then first day of Spring brought us all snow!

Plenty of information, interesting additions, articles, pictures and discussion topics on thatch to keep you entertained in this Newsletter.

Please keep your pictures, stories, problems and solutions coming, we love to hear from you all and your positive feedback is appreciated.    We are not the thatch police but do have contacts and information which can help with a myriad of situations.  Join us on social media for other ‘thatch’ updates but don’t worry – important stuff is re-iterated in our Newsletters.

Winner – Thatched Business Pic Competition

In this Newsletter:

Click on the title to show the details.

What we have been doing?

  • The damp weather, which started in August, caused a bit of concern over harvest time and seems to have increased the number of enquiries we’ve received regarding the inevitable moss and lichen growth.
  • Enquiries on an even wider range of topics, from pests to mildew, has kept us on our toes but we have still found time to add to the website.
  • More great Associates have joined us on the Thatch Directory and an increasing amount of enquiries from thatchers and architects show that things are busy.
  • We attended the Dutch Thatching Event in Zwolle and also Ecobuild.  At Ecobuild we joined the Natural Building Café and were part of the ‘Ask the Experts’ team.  Promoting thatch as a sustainable insulating and versatile material is so rewarding.
  • Sadly the weather stopped us from attending the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps Exhibition but the phones and internet kept us in touch.  More details below on many of the above mentioned topics.
  • A recent meeting at Historic England has given us a potential project which we hope to be able to elaborate on later this year.
  • Our social media continues to do well with numbers of friends and followers increasing and great engagement.  Facebook changes mean the best way to stay in touch is to check into our page from time to time.  We have added Social Share buttons to our articles pages so that you can share with your friends and colleagues.  Data confirms that our Thatch Fire Safety leaflet has been read over 2,300 times since December just from social media promotion.  Keep sharing the up to date information folks.  A few too many fires recently means promoting the risk reduction is so important.
  • We have been asked to write articles for several related organisations/publications.  Please watch this space.
  • Our website continues to develop.  You will see below the amount of useful updates we have achieved since September.  More are planned and we are delighted to have such great response from our visitors.
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Updates from previous Newsletters

1 Sponsor a Sheaf

At the Tithe Barn Trust re-thatching is only part of the whole restoration project.  We promoted the Sponsor a Sheaf Campaign.

There is a long way to go but an update from the Chairman, this month, reported that they are about a quarter of the way to target and progress is steady.

Any contributions or help for this marvellous barn restoration will still be appreciated.

2 Thatch Fire Safety Advice

FPA guidance imminent!  See below for more info.

More useful info from chimney sweeps on woodburners and chimneys.  Mention of Woodsure and importantly running your stove as part of Burnright advice.  The new Chimney Safety Group has potential too.

Nothing from HETAS yet regarding updating of their thatch information.

3  #TestitTuesday

Our regular FB and Twitter reminders to test your smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms is growing in reach.

Please join us and Share and RT with your friends and followers because working alarms are essential for everyone’s safety.

4 #ThatchThursday

We have been concentrating on Questions and Answers recently.

Now thinking about a bit of a change…. Maybe.  What do you think?  Send us an email with your thoughts.

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Social Media Mates

Camelot Real Fires

Camelot Real Fires are based in Worcestershire and are Thatch Advice Centre Associates

Creating high performance open fires with HETAS approval, they promote 100% success rate in fixing smoke problems.  Camelot Real Fires are our social media mates who regularly comment, share and RT so contributing to the important process of #workingtogether.

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2017 Harvest

Lots of discussion regarding the 2017 harvest from thatchers, conservation departs, individuals  and organisations.

Talks with the National Thatching Straw Growers Association as well as other growers and suppliers across the country led to us writing an article to clarify the situation at that time.

Anyone looking for straw, get in touch as we may know people who can help and remember, its less than 6 months now until the next harvest may start.

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Thatch Tale

As with all things in life there is often a phrase born of truth.  Our tale this time relates to the old saying of “Never a Borrower or Lender be”.

A thatcher (A) owned a thrashing machine and a thatcher friend of his (B) asked to borrow it.   Not a problem you may think.  (A) loaned it to his friend (B) who used it and then a friend of (B), thatcher (C) asked to borrow it from (B).  (B) loaned it to (C) but did not tell (A).  (C) Took it to a farmer he knew who had grown some thatching straw so that they could use it for the thrashing.  The machine did its job but the farmer was a bit puzzled when he witnessed the (C) removing the identification plates.  Shortly after this (B) needed some straw and, by chance, was directed to the farmer.  Imagine his surprise to find the thrashing machine that he (B) had loaned to (C) and to be told by the farmer that it belonged to (C)!!

After some interesting phone calls and involvement of police the situation was resolved.  Was it attempted theft by (C)? hard to prove but the moral of this story is even if you lend something to a friend, maybe put it in writing and don’t loan it out to a third party without notifying and getting the owner’s permission (and something in writing).

It’s not like you can pop to an agricultural machinery dealer and order a new thrashing machine!! The one in question was apparently 100 years old.

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Competition Winner

Category: Thatch in Progress

Congratulations Fleur De Lys the New Forests oldest pub.  They are the winners of our thatched business picture competition (Pic at the top of the newsletter) and the magnificent tin of hand-made Chocolate Crafchocolates.  We even have a picture of the happy winners with their chocolates!

Many thanks to all those who entered – your pictures may also be included in the Thatch Advice Centre in the future so watch this space.

‘Thatching in Progress’ is the next picture competition,  Entries with name and postal address to:-

5  Thatching in Progress
6  Interesting and Unusual thatch

The winner of the next category 5 will also be sent a fabulous bespoke, and made especially for our competition, prize from Chocolate Craft.

Their chocolates are hand-made, supplied to customers such as Fortnum and Masons and are absolutely delicious.

Homeowner, thatcher or passer by, To enter you will need to supply your own photograph(s) of the thatch along with the category and any details you want to provide, eg where it is.  You can enter as many photos as you like.
Email your  entries to:-
In entering this competition, you agree for any picture supplied to be used by the Thatch Advice Centre.  Any pictures selected will be credited to yourself.

Deadline for category 5 entries is noon Friday 19th January 2018.  Entries for the other category can be received at any time.

Good luck and happy snapping.

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Regional Thatch

Our first regional thatch page on the website – East Anglia.  Many thanks to Master Thatcher Stephen Letch for his contribution and pictures.

We have more Regional Thatch pages in the pipeline,  to help everyone understand the wonderful differences in thatching around the country.

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Quality and Specifications

There has been a lot of discussion on the quality of quotations, estimates, proposals and specifications for thatching.

The customer often is unclear exactly what they are asking for and so the thatchers’ variable responses can be confusing.

We have decided that a future article on this will be more helpful for everyone – probably be based on some of the many queries we have received.  In the meantime, please remember to get more than one quote and compare them carefully.  Ask sensible questions and be clear on what is being requested, or offered.

A listed property must be thatched ‘like for like’ same material, ridge, flashings etc. as existing and any changes will require Listed Building Consent.

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Thatch Fire Safety Advice Progress

We have continued to press for the guidance from FPA on their research into chimneys, woodburners and thatch to be finalised. We understand that it is imminent.

Please contact us by email with the Title FPA Update if you want to be added to the list and emailed this information when it becomes available to us. It will also be covered by Social Medial and Newsletter.

A warm wet winter has kept the thatch fire numbers low but sadly the recent dry cold snap did add to them. Our Thatch Fire Safety Leaflet is designed to help you understand the main causes and risks so you can reduce them and has the backing of many organisations. Please read and share with your friends.
We have very recently met with Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service and have also been assisting many other Services in improving their thatch fire safety information. Further discussions are ongoing and we are pleased to include any interested Fire Services in this, so feel free to get in touch. #workingtogether

The changes within many Fire Services mean we try to keep our Thatch Directory information up to date but please notify us of anything on your County Fire Services contact details which may need adjusting so that we can be #working together to keep things current and useful.

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Thatchers Knowledge

Can all thatchers make spars?

Interesting question.  We know that a lot of thatchers don’t have that skill.  1000s of wooden spars are now imported, ready twisted, so we do hope that this skill is not lost too.

We put a video on the website of a spar being made a while ago and now have added a video of a thatcher twisting a spar.  It is definitely not as easy as it looks.

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National Trust and Thatch

The National Trust have many thatched buildings and in one of our recent discussions the topic of thatch moss was raised.

Many people have been in touch about increased moss and lichen growth on their roofs, especially after such a warm wet winter.  There is, however, another side to the moss coin.  The National Trust explained that there is a rare moss Leptodontium gemmascens which pretty much only grows on old thatch (both old straw and reed).  This moss has been found on some of the National Trust’s thatched buildings.   An article from several years ago in a national tabloid stated ‘Rare moss in danger as affluent owners of thatched houses prefer perfect roofs’.  Perhaps thatch can play a part in other conservation issues too.  More details awaited.

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Pinterest Boards

We have been slowly adding to our boards on Pinterest.

Our Design board is really looking rather good with inspiration on the versatility of thatch, for owners, architects and planners alike.  Please feel free to add to our boards, people are already pinning ours.

Thatch lends itself well to Pinterest as a picture apparently ‘speaks a thousand words’!

Follow our Pinterest boards on:

Thatch Design
Thatched Cottages
Thatch Maintenance
Thatched Ridges
Thatch pic competition winners
Thatching Interest
Thatch Thursday Q&As
Thatch Thursdays (prior to Q&As)

Three boards especially for you to showcase your thatch pictures:-

My Thatched Cottage
Thatch in Progress
Thatched Inspiration

We think that covers it.  If you want us to add another board, let us know, we will definitely give it some consideration.

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Famous Thatch

Thomas Hardy’s Cottage

Thomas Hardy’s Cottage in Dorset is a small cob and thatch building which was built by Hardy’s great-grandfather in 1800.  It is now a National Trust property and a popular tourist attraction.  It has a typical cottage garden, and the interior displays furniture original to the period.  Thomas Hardy lived here from his birth in 1840 until he was 34.  During this time he wrote the novels Under the Greenwood Tree and Far from the Madding Crowd.

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New Competition

Our next picture competition is for ‘Interesting and Unusual Thatch’.

Get snapping and send us pictures of some unusual thatch construction, buildings or finials.  The winner will be announced in the next newsletter.  Closing date will be September 3rd at noon.

A unique prize for this one!

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Professional Indemnity

Many requests from insurers on the condition of thatched roofs require them to be checked and reported upon.  It has led to a question that may have been overlooked.

If thatchers are inspecting roofs and putting their ‘opinion’ on paper, have they the appropriate professional indemnity insurance cover for this?  It had been assumed by many that it was covered in their business or public liability insurance, but this often not the case.  The importance of having cover is due to the potential for a claim being made by a party based on such an inspection report.

Sadly, it is the way of the world now but we just wanted to let everyone know.

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Thatch in the Netherlands

Our next picture competition is for ‘Interesting and Unusual Thatch’.

Get snapping and send us pictures of some unusual thatch construction, buildings or finials.  The winner will be announced in the next newsletter.  Closing date will be September 3rd at noon.

A unique prize for this one!

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Chimney Safety Group

How pleased were we to find out about the new Chimney Safety Group.

We have written an article detailing more on their remit which includes links to the Burnright website with a great video on stove operation.  We are sure this will be of interest to many of our subscribers.

Their ‘core aim of reducing pollution and chimney related accidents’ are welcomed and we look forward to #workingtogether.

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Learning to Thatch

Anyone looking for a trainee thatcher– please get in touch.

We have had a few youngsters in contact looking for a thatcher to train them.

Similarly thatchers looking for trainees or who will be looking for trainees in the future, please get in touch and we will help with introductions.

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Next Newsletter

Next newsletter – 2018

  • Updates
  • Progress reports
  • Thatch Tale
  • Competition Winner
  • Social Media Mates
  • New Associates
  • New Project
  • Famous Thatch
  • and more….
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For Sale

We have a subscriber who purchased 3 brand new ‘eyebrow’ windows for their thatched property and then had to relocate.  New owners didn’t fancy making the changes so they are for sale.

Get in touch if you are interested and we will send you more information and contact details.

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If you would like to contribute, with a tale, or other ‘thatch’ interest info. please email us  We would love to hear from you and you will be credited.

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