Thatch Advice Centre Newsletter No. 21

Hello everyone and welcome to all our new subscribers.

Hope you have all enjoyed the Spring and Summer and, as we turn towards Autumn, we are looking back over what has been achieved in our world of thatch.  Again thanks to everyone for your involvement; enquiries, help with responses to enquiries, information, updates, sharing and retweeting, commenting, sending us pictures and competition entries.

Thanks to you, our growing thatch community is continuing to be a success.  We were even asked if we did a hard copy of our last Newsletter!  Sadly no budget ..yet but…  Read on and see what news, updates and new thatch things we have for you this time.  As usual, there is a fair bit to report.

In This Newsletter

Updates to our Website (Pages and Articles)
Updates from Previous Newsletter
(HETAS Guidance, Thatching Apprenticeship, Regulations and Requirements, Importance of Testing Alarms and Pesky Birds)
Social Media Interest
Caption Competition Winner
New Caption Competition
Thatch Insurance Improvements
Thatched Tale 
Dorset Model Updates
Moss and Lichen
Woodburners – a Hot Topic
Fire Safety Reminders
What Do Thatched Properties Not Usually Have?
New Associates on the Thatch Directory
Positive Feedback from our Thatch Community
Interesting Thatch Project

Next Time………

In this Newsletter:

Click on the title to show the details.

Updates from Previous Newsletter

HETAS Thatch Guidance

The ‘imminent’ HETAS updates promised in March are still awaited.

What more can be said except it is very disappointing, especially as their website still links to information which, as we have previously mentioned, includes several unsubstantiated or incorrect statements.  No reference to the recent Fire Protection Association Research etc has yet been made.  We have recently requested a progress report from them on this and await their response. 

Everyone is moving forward, irrespective of their lack of updates, but it makes it tricky when insurers stipulate that installations must be with a HETAS registered engineer.  HETAS is a business and their engineers’ responses to situations with thatch are currently very variable and still cause confusion.

Furthermore our close liaison with the Chimney Sweep organisations gives us the ability to link to many HETAS registered businesses who are in a good position to promote the reality of the situation and up to date thatch fire safety information in relation to solid fuel burning.  We know from our enquiries that people still want to use woodburners to heat their homes.  Please be aware of the excellent Burnright Campaign and just take care when lighting, refuelling and venting of appliances per the Fire Protection Association Guidance

Our aim is to educate everyone who wants to use solid fuels, in ways to reduce the proven risks.  We strongly hope to hear from HETAS very shortly and, as previously mentioned, if they need any more information or data from us, we are always happy to help.

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Thatching Apprenticeship

The Thatching Apprenticeship Trailblazer Group is continuing to make great progress in the important exercise of setting up a government approved and funded apprenticeship for thatchers. The first stages are already approved and the group is moving on to the next stages of assessments and funding. As promised we will continue to keep you posted.

Anyone wanting to be involved, either as:-

An apprentice
A Master Thatcher looking to take advantage of this (when it is available for current or future apprentices),
A Master Thatcher who wants to get involved as a Trainer or Assessor (paid roles) There is no obligation at this stage, just an expression of interest.
Please send an email to with your contact details etc and we will add you to the list.

Thanks to all those who have already been in touch.

It is not so easy to ensure that all thatchers are included in this process since it is quite a fragmented craft. However, we do understand the importance of the whole trade sticking together for the good of thatching both now and in the future.

Many thatchers still don’t have email. If you are a homeowner, please tell your thatcher to give us a call, if you think he is missing out and may be interested.

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Regulations and Requirements

We continue to help people dealing with their thatch propertiesbuilding regulations and also conservationand insurance requirements.  It is apparent that all these areas do not always work together seamlessly, so finding a sensible compromise is often how progress is made.

The postcode lottery also seems to be a problem; with representatives from different areas responding differently to the same enquiries.  We have heard a lot of stories and are always interested to hear more.   In addition, we are gathering files of similar related situations.  It is continually frustrating to find a lack of knowledge and real understanding of thatch.  In some cases, common sense is giving way to box ticking, and we all know this is not ideal.

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Importance of Testing Alarms

Our Associates Anglia Pest Management –
Getting involved with our Test it Tuesday campaign








Our #TestitTuesday campaign on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest regularly reminds everyone of this simple but effective fire safety message.

Several businesses have sent us pictures of them testing their alarms.  We are always happy to promote any businesses by sharing and crediting their photos on social media.  #workingtogether

Why not send us a picture of you testing your alarm (wearing your branded clothing if you like) so you can get a mention?

Promoting this message helps everyone, including our overstretched Fire Services, so please share and retweet our #TestitTuesday campaign.

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Pesky Birds

Someone has suggested a Clam Trap as a humane way to catch any birds who have taken it upon themselves to pull out thatch.  They can then be removed and relocated.  Worth a try!

Have a look at our website for some more ideas on dealing with pests
Happy to receive other suggestions to add to the list.

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Social Media Interest

We continue to cover a variety of interesting #thatch related topics on our social media (in addition to our regular #TesititTuesday and
#ThatchThursday posts / tweets),  as well as acknowledging those who share our messages, advice and interests. 

#ThatchAdvice is the hashtag.  We also use #MondayMotivation, #WonderfulWednesday and #FridayFeeling on a fairly regular basis.

It is a great way for us to let you know what is going on, interesting thatch topics and about new pages, articles and associates on our website.  

See below some of the subjects covered on our social media over the last 6 months.  #TestitTuesday reminders and #ThatchThursdays are not listed.

Some of our Social Media posts

  • Dorset Coppice Group – Wood Fair 2019
  • Promoting Little Woodham over Easter
  • Regular Updates on the House of Wessex with Pembrokeshire Thatch and Carpentry Services
  • Great recent stats on FB: Post reach (16.1K up 5%) Post engagements (1,275 up 27%) New page likes (22 up 0%)
  • Interesting thatch – new dairy at Weald and Downland Open Air Museum
  • ‘Beautiful image of traditional thatching from the Hands Series’ via – Cottageology
  • Gerry Faughnan photography – picture of a 200yr old former pub
  • Looking for a Longstraw thatcher – (and we found one)
  • Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps Association strong response with truths to the misinformation on woodburners and particulate matters on the BBC’s The One Show
  • Sharing from Burn Right – facts and figures on air quality. BBC Radio 4 broadcast.
  • The Home Insurer – sharing their Blog on joining us on the Thatch Directory
  • Steve Tribe – lovely picture of his cottage recently thatched.
  • SPAB conference information
  • Bird on a chimney sweep brush (Cleaner Chimneys)
  • Heritage Cob and Lime pics of one-to-one training
  • Sylva Foundation Wood Centre – Anglo Saxon open days
  • Fathers’ Day post – Thatch Pub picture
  • #MondayMotivation Happy to help with building regulation enquiries  etc.
  • Thatched cottage in Norfolk developed a severe tilt overnight
  • Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service – BBQ safely
  • Old thatch picture  – via Hampshire in Old Photographs
  • Festival of archaeology at Butser Ancient Farm
  • Dorset Coppice Group – the living classroom
  • East Coast Chimney Sweep cover photo update
  • Why live in rectangles – from independent .ie
  • Danish Eelgrass – Viking style
  • Thatch tea house in Glen Folk Village
  • Friends of Landbeach Tithe Barn – YouTube
  • Little Woodham – rural crafts through the ages day
  • Butser Ancient Farm – Horrible Histories movie
  • Email response – Government Institute of Apprenticeships Thatching Apprenticeship
  • Veronique Zouero Attala – African Round Houses?
  • 6 Eco-friendly vernacular Architecture styles from India
  • Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings – 1 day course for owners of homes over 100 years old
  • Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps article on chimneys and Jackdaw nests
  • Jimmy Vardy – ‘Foster’ threshing drum on the way to the Dorset Steam Fair
  • We Love England – Beautiful thatched cottage
  • Building Naturally UK & Ireland – Straw Bale Roundhouse
  • A visual poem of Paul Lebiedzinski’s
  • Competition Reminders
  • Heritage Cob and Lime – 500 year old cob
  • (Margaret Rose Cunningham) – Glencolmcille Folk Village
  • Promoting #Chimneyfiresafetyweek (HETAS)
  • Progress report for Sylva Foundation Wood Centre
  • Sharing information from our Associates who have been on TV
  • Canolfan Tywi Centre – specialist training in heritage carpentry trades
  • BBC Cymru Wales – one of the last traditional thatchers in Wales
  • Craft taster day at Bonsley Wood
  • Various thatch fires across the country

As well as some great pictures:

  • We love flowers and thatch together (who doesn’t!?) –  especially roses, wisteria (including a well photographed one at Swan Green Lyndhurst) and hanging baskets.
  • Thatching works in progress, and specialist tools.
  • Seasonal – particularly soggy flowers and thatch in June, and thatch harvest
  • Amusing ones – a thatched porch that looks like a nose
  • Our local New Forest and Hampshire Show –  thatch pictures from there.
  • Along with other lovely pictures sent to us and credited to you – with thanks.

Join in and/or tag us in anything you think is #thatch #thatched #thatching related.  We love receiving your pictures too and thanks for your engagement.

Remember our #ThatchAdvice hashtag to find/join our posts and

To tag us:      Facebook     @thatchadvicecentre
Twitter           @ThatchAdvice

(Please don’t confuse us with others of a similar name)

Facebook Website Email
Facebook Website Email
Twitter Pinterest
Twitter Pintrest
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Caption Competition Winner








What a great picture we received from Chris Essex, Master Thatcher, of a cat on a ridge. Thanks for all your great entries.

The Winner of the £20 gift voucher is Sue Kerrigan, one of our social media mates. Well done with this clever caption.

“That Thatcher gets better and better, that looks just like a real cat!!”

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New Caption Competition

Caption Competition 3

Our next Caption Competition picture is above.

Many thanks to Valient Fireside for kindly donating the prize of a wood moisture meter and flue monitor. Great for following our thatch fire safety advice and/or for those who burn wood.

Please email all qualifying captions (along with your name and address to validate the entry) to:-

Entries close on Monday 2nd March 2020 at noon. Same rules apply.

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Thatch Insurance Improvements

We are pleased to announce that we have been contacted by established underwriters who are writing thatched home insurance. Positive news which could lead to thatch insurance improvements. We are hoping to work together to “eradicate some of the barriers which currently exist to people obtaining insurance for Thatched Homes”.

Rest assured we will do our best to explain the situations we know about that are causing difficulties or which can be improved on through understanding. Issues from our visitors, subscribers, friends, followers, callers and associates will all be taken into account – anonymously of course. Working together is what we aim for. Please watch this space.

We are proud to be leading the way in identifying and helping with myriad thatch related issues.

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Thatched Tale

Strange how things happen. Recent big news on the problem with plastic pollution, especially in our oceans, has meant many people are looking at alternatives.

Interestingly, we have been contacted by two separate people this year with an idea to make drinking straws out of thatching straw. Like buses, nothing then two come at once. In these days of getting rid of plastic it is a novel idea and we look forward to hearing how such plans progress.

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Dorset Model Updates

We have spoken recently to Mr R Heaton FRICS Msc Hon. – Senior Building Control Surveyor – and founder member of the Dorset Model technical team. He confirmed that he will be working on updates to the Dorset Model over the next 5 years in conjunction with all elements of the trade (including ourselves) and will not be “operating in isolation”. This may well be after any changes to relevant Building Regulations have been published which is hoped will take into account all recent research and developments.

Currently, the Dorset Model gives advice about the “requirements for the extension or construction of new buildings with thatched roofs that are within 12m of a boundary” and has evolved over the last 25 years to provide guidelines on:

    1. Building control requirements
    2. Further recommendations

We look forward to being involved in this important process, where our knowledge and experience may well be invaluable, as we receive many, many enquiries on this topic.

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Moss and Lichen

For a small thing, moss and lichen are a pretty interesting topic. We have discussed where moss and lichen comes from. how to deal with it and even rare moss. We feel it warrants more consideration before we write about recent information provided. In the meantime, feel free to continue to get in touch.

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Woodburners - A Hot Topic!

In light of recent research, woodburners have been a hot topic! It is easy to say don’t have one, however…

There are many people still using and wanting to use woodburners so we advocate doing so as safely as possible. Please read our Thatch Fire Safety Leaflet, use common sense and remember to Burnright.

For those thinking to install a new stove, please make sure it is one which will meet the new regulations coming in in 2022. Not only are they cleaner burning, but in terms of thatch are probably safer as well. Don’t forget to inform your insurers of any changes eg addition or removal of a stove.

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Fire Safety – Reminder

Sweep and check chimneys and liners before the burning season.

We are also very pleased that more organisations have asked to use our Thatch Fire Safety Leafleton their websites.  Thanks to all those who are doing so. 

The more safety information that is shared to help reduce the risks the better.

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What Don't Thatched Properties Usually Have?


A recent call reminded us of this fact. Generally, thatched roofs don’t have gutters so people can suffer with a bit of a drenching when its pouring with rain and they open the door. Thatch has very few downsides but is this one of them?

The picture above shows a thatched roof with some interesting gutters.

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Obituary - Bob West

Sadly this year, we have lost another strong thatching character who impacted on the thatching industry in the late 70s in more ways than one.  He was an entrepreneur with vision.  Some of his books are still in circulation and our condolences go to the family of Bob West (Robert West).

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Positive Feedback - Thank you

As a free advice resource, sustained by volunteers and helped by associates and organisations, we so appreciate positive feedback on all our efforts. These are some of those we remembered to list, but everyone’s thanks are most welcome

“Thanks so much for all the information I get from your Facebook page and website. I find it invaluable”

“I so appreciate your advice, I was losing sleep over this”

“You have been a great help in explaining the situation so clearly, thank you so much”

Comment on our You Tube video: Making Thatching Spars:
“Thank goodness for the internet!  I am reading Thomas Hardy’s novel The Woodlanders. It contains the following passage: ..””She was making spars such as are used by thatchers…” Now I know what she was doing.”

“I appreciate your time and professionalism” – from a Master Thatcher

We are pleased to help with enquiries on thatch and these testimonials make it even better.

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Interesting Thatch or a Project








If you have an interesting place to visit (museum, open air site, visitor centre building, historical, new build) with thatch or an interesting project which you want to share, please get in touch so we can share it with all of our friends, followers and subscribers. If you like, you can be mentioned too! Love to hear from you.

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Next Time

New on the website
Competition Winner
Thatched Tale
Checking a Thatched Roof
Information and Understanding
Chimney Sweeps

And more…..

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The content of the Thatch Advice Centre Newsletter is circulated to its subscribers and is copyright.  These contents may only be reproduced with the permission of the Thatch Advice Centre.

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Thatch Directory Categories – Phase I

Our site has one clear list of categories so it is easy to find help.  We are looking for proven services to join us.  References are required.

Thatch Directory Categories - PHASE 1

·  Architects
·  Builders
·  Building Surveyors
·  Chimney & Flue Specialists
·  Chimney Sweeps
·  Electrical Engineers
·  Fire Safety Products & Supplies
·  Garden Buildings
·  Health and Safety
·  Insurance
·  Leadworkers
·  Master Thatchers
·  Preservation & Pest Control

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Thatch Directory Categories - PHASE 1

·  Quantity Surveyors
·  Reed & Straw Dealers
·  Scaffolding
·  Security
·  Solid Fuel & Heating Supplies
·  Specialist Builders
·  Specialist Building Materials
·  Structural Surveyors
  Thatched Hospitality
·  Thatching Supplies
·  Timber Framed Builders
·  Tools & Equipment Hire
·  Tree Surgeons

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