Newsletter September 2018

Welcome everyone,

Well what an interesting six months it has been.  After a horrendously wet winter we were then hit with the hot, dry summer.   Thatchers have therefore been working hard in testing conditions.  Thatching straw harvest is done and we have heard that the straw quality has been good.

Thatch Advice Centre Newsletter 19

The long awaited Fire Protection Association (FPA) Guidance (following the results of their research into thatch, woodburners and chimneys) has been published and forwarded to us for distribution (August).  See more on this and the associated report below.  Please:-

  • Make sure you read it.
  • Understand how you can reduce the thatch fire risks based on proof.
  • Note the Important Update Regarding Conduction and Heat Transfer. “Historic work appears to have utilised inputs that we now know to be unrepresentative of reality…..” (See below for details)
  • Share the information and work with us in the fight against thatch fires using up to date proof.

Please don’t forget to tell your friends with thatch about signing up for the Newsletter – they are only about twice a year.  When you join our growing thatch community you realise there is a lot going on in the world of thatch.

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In this Newsletter:

Click on the title to show the details.

Updates to Website

We have written several articles since March, in addition to our interesting and informative Thatch Thursdays.

The website ‘Resources’ and ‘Fire Safety Info’ pages have been updated with FPA GuidanceFPA Report and Historic Environment Scotland Info document.

More links have been added to improve the site as well as additional pictures.  Also, our Privacy Policy, sign up and contact forms are done for GDPR requirements.

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Updates from previous Newsletters

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Reduce VAT on Listed Properties – Petition

The Listed Property Owners Club (LPOC), contacted us regarding their petition on VAT. They are campaigning to persuade the Chancellor to reduce VAT to 5% on repairs and approved alterations to listed buildings in his November Budget. We are happy to be asked to help promote this as, after all, there are many listed thatched properties.

If they can get to 10,000 signatures the Government will have to respond; 100,000 and it may secure a debate in Parliament.

For more information and to sign the petition visit You can also encourage others you know to do the same.

PS. LPOC said, “Once you have filled in your details on the petition site, you will receive one further email asking you to confirm your details. Only after this step will your signature be applied to the total count”

So, don’t forget to check your emails and complete the process folks.

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Chimney Fire Safety Week - Disappointing

HETAS and the National Society of Master Thatchers Ltd have, again, missed the opportunity to, clearly and in a timely manner, change their Thatched Properties information on the causes of thatch fires and chimney safety. The chance to give thatched property owners the benefit of the up to date advice.

We have written an article explaining some (not all) of the areas which are of concern.  Our frustration is evident because we are coming up to the next burning season and we want to help people.

It is hoped that their information will be updated for next year’s Chimney Fire Safety Week!  Read our concerns, including the useful back up from Historic England putting straight some of their inaccuracies.  We have had positive feedback from insurers on this too!

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Social Media Interest

Here are some of the interesting posts and tweets we have shared on Social Media.

  • Heritage Cob and Lime, restoring a thatched cob cottage, removing the concrete wire mesh and bricks to replace with lime.
  • Burnright launch and campaign. #Workingtogether to spread the word on how to Burn Right – Very important at this time of year.
  • Fire Service – Problems with access, mind how you park.
  • Butser Ancient Farm rethatching works – 5 tonnes of straw for the Iron Age roundhouse roof and updates on progress!
  • Surrey Fire Volunteer Service – Please don’t use Chinese Lanterns as the commons are so dry….. So are everyone’s thatched roofs!
  • and Lovely selection of pictures of thatched cottages and villages.
  • Building Naturally – Lime rendering straw bales course
  • Cruck Cottage Museum back up and running after a fire
  • Our Article in May/June Listed Heritage Magazine
  • Chimney Safety Group and Cleaner Air Strategy #workingtogether All up to date and relevant to thatch fire safety
  • Cannabis factory hidden in a lovely £500K thatched cottage. Would it have got a mention if it was tiled?
  • Undiscovered Cotswolds – lovely pic of thatch
  • Whitstable Tower Hill Tea Gardens thatched building fire.
  • Grass growing on a thatched roof, video
  • The Thatch at Sandy Balls Holiday Village
  • Picture Competition reminders
  • Risk of sun’s rays magnifying through glass causing a fire (Oxon Fire and Rescue Service)

Our Thatch Advice Centre content has various thatch related pictures from our growing bank of great thatch images. Feel free to send us some – you will be credited.

Social Media allows us to show the diversity of wonderful thatch related topics.

It is interesting to note that those who are struggling with content are managing to copy/replicate our posts/tweets. Why not just share/RT and save yourselves some time? We have a lot of expertise, knowledge and loads of ideas yet to come… #workingtogether

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Thatch Tale

We had contact from a lovely thatched property owner who had a case of book lice following their rethatching works.  Book lice live in many types of property but rethatching under the right conditions can lead to an infestation.  This person wanted our help due to their concerns over their thatchers proposed solution to spray red diesel on the roof.  What do you think we said!!!

NB Spraying Red diesel on your thatch is NOT RECOMMENDED.

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Competition Winner

Thank you to everyone for their entries in to the thatch picture competition for “interesting and unusual thatch”.  It was a close one this time.

Very well done to Laura Morgan of North Mill Stoves for her winning entry.  We are sure you will enjoy your prize – a large tin of bespoke handmade chocolate!.

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Next competition – a bit of fun

Captions Please!

Thatch Advice Centre Caption Competition 19

We decided to do a ‘captions’ competition.  This pony’s prefix is Thatchers ..and we have a lovely thatch in the background.
Entries close on 31st December 2018 and the Winner will receive a £20 gift voucher.  See here for details.

All qualifying captions to be sent with your name and address to: –

We will also promote this competition on Social Media. Looking forward to your entries with interest!

If you have any pictures involving thatch, worthy of a caption competition, send them to us and you will be credited if used.

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Fire board problems

As part of the Dorset Model stipulating a minimum half hour Fire Resisting barrier,  fire boards have been used. It has come to our notice that some installations under thatch have been suffering considerable problems with damp and mould.  We hope to have more information on this which we can share in the future.
In the meantime, please be aware of what you want to achieve and what you are buying.Understand the difference between a fire barrier and a fire resisting barrier  under the section playing with fire.  A fire resisting barrier protects the construction underneath (eg rafters) from the fire (flames) AND the heat.  It will have been tested as such.

What building regulations are you trying to satisfy? And is that achieving what you think it is?  Also, please check the design of your roof especially when looking at installations on older properties.  Do your insurers understand the different options? and how would it affect your insurance in the event of a claim?

Our aim is to reduce the risk of thatch catching fire in the first place.  If you have not done so yet, remember to read our updated Thatch Fire Safety Leaflet.

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Great Introductions

Sometimes the number of enquiries become a bit overwhelming but it is generally outweighed by the feeling of achievement we get from helping people, along with their thanks and appreciation.

Our recent introduction of a landowner (with sedge grass for cutting) to a thatcher (with a need for sedge and the machine to cut it) makes it all the more worthwhile.  We know it sometimes takes us a while to find answers or solutions but this one was definitely a great result.

We also helped out the New Forest and Hampshire Show when they were looking for someone with a threshing machine for the working display.
See a video of machine in action at the New Forest Show

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Thatch Fire Safety Advice – FPA Guidance and Report

Since the meeting in London in October 2016, we have been chasing up this information into thatch, chimneys and woodburners, understanding that certain events had delayed the final document.  Marvellous, we now have an article and links to this FPA Guidanceand the accompanying report on our website.  The report makes excellent reading, especially for those, like us, with a greater interest in the detail.

Our Thatch Fire Safety leaflet was updated several months ago to incorporate this news, with the knowledge of both Historic England and NFU mutual (who funded the research).
Now it is on our website adding more good, up to date and proven information on causes and prevention of thatch fires.

An important quote below is regarding Conduction and Heat Transfer – or not – (see Fig 40 of the report – above)
“Historic work appears to have utilised inputs that we now know to be unrepresentative of reality in that they were too severe and similarly, the method of heat application in the supporting testing was done with an efficiency much greater that would happen in a real chimney heat transfer system regime

Changing the old unrealistic information must surely now happen.  We are still awaiting  HETAS updates to their information and are hopeful that this finalised guidance will encouraged them to get this done before the next burning season, although the effort for Chimney Fire Safety week makes us wonder.  Apologies if our frustration is evident!

It is also hoped that the Fire Service can update their advice, however getting this information to the grass roots level will probably take some time.  Similarly the changes to insurance advice are hoped to follow. The information is there for everyone to use and we do understand that change can take time.

The FPA Guidance also fits in with the excellent Burnright campaign driven by our Chimney sweep friends (see below for more details).  This makes our #workingtogether even more effective.  Please understand and reduce your risks folks.  So, please make sure you read it and share with any friends or associates who have thatch and woodburners.

Let’s also anticipate a positive effect on the Building Regulation updates based on reality and understanding.  Current regulations have caused confusion and difficulties in their application,  and coupled with Listed Building Consent which seems to us to be a bit of a postcode lottery, have meant we have spent considerable time helping people with queries.  Often there is no standard, straightforward answer or even a way to tick all the boxes, and if they do is it the best solution?  It is hoped that these difficulties will soon be clarified and sorted out by those in charge of reviewing them…  We can keep the pressure on and keep our fingers crossed but it is sometimes very frustrating.

Our knowledge and experience of what is going on is offered to help and we are currently contacting associates etc to see how we can assist.

There is so much going on regarding Thatch and Fire Safety, we will keep you posted or maybe even a separate newsletter!

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Our chimney sweeping friends, (GOMCS, APICS, NACS and ICS) met with DEFRA in London pledging support for cleaner air and the Burnright campaign.  Well done everyone.

The Burnright website is a brilliant informative site giving excellent advice.  Coupled with the recent FPA research guidance means we are making great progress on Thatch Fire Safety as well as cleaner air.  #workingtogether.

All we mention is take care not to over-vent when lighting fire and getting it up to the correct working temperature.

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Grants and Listed Thatch

A growing number of enquiries on Grants for Listed thatch properties have been received.  The old grants that were available via the local councils have obviously been hit over the years and recent austerity measures seem to have wiped them out.  There is, however, a little potential for grants for listed properties – no guarantees but some circumstances eg charities, are worth a try.  We have put some links on our website or get in touch, restrictions apply.

If funding for works on listed properties is of interest to you dont forget to sign the LPOC petition to reduce the VAT on listed properties.

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Famous Thatch

Woodsford Castle – picture above

The Landmark Trust rescues important historic buildings that would otherwise be lost.  Woodsford Castle is near Dorchester Dorset, deep in Hardy Country and is part of the Landmark Trust.  This is the surviving part of a 14th-century castle (one side of the quadrangular castle).

This roof is reported to be one of the largest expanses of thatch in the county.  If you love thatch this is definitely a different place to visit.

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Pinterest Boards

A picture speaks a 1000 words and some people just prefer pictures.

Our Pinterest boards are steadily growing with some great pictures (and some logos from our Associates!).  Don’t forget to add some of yours to our boards.  Boards like “my thatched cottage” or if,  you are a thatcher or having your thatch renewed,  “thatch in progress”.

Everyone enjoys seeing thatch pictures and other people like to pin them to their boards too.  Welcome on board!  Some of the entries to our interesting and unusual thatch competition have been added too.

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Several enquiries regarding bonfires.  We know that several of the thatch insurers stipulate no bonfires on your premises within 100 yards of your thatched property.  The problems we have been contacted about on several occasions are with regard to neighbours who have bonfires close to the boundary and often close to the thatch.

When we contacted our friends at the Fire Service to ask if there were any regulations on this they confirmed that there are not.  We know of one person who was so worried they called the Fire Service who attended and put out the fire.  We feel that this is not the best way to tackle such a potential problem but do understand.  Damping down your thatch with a hose is another option but we recommend just speaking to your neighbours and explaining the risk.  Non thatch owners are often oblivious to your concerns.

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Thatch Advice Centre Associates

Our friends and Associates are very important to us as we cannot know everything.  We do however, in the majority of cases, know someone who will have the answer or can help our visitors.  Thanks to all those who have been contacted and assisted us with their expertise.  You know who you are and it is appreciated.  #workingtogether

Our Thatch Directory Associate numbers also continue to grow. From the feedback their help is very much appreciated.  We are proud to have such great specialists to assist our visitors.  See the list of categories below and if you want to join us, get in touch.  Remember we are looking for proven quality businesses and references will be required.

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New Thatch Advice Centre Associates

Welcome to our Thatch Directory, especially at this time of year!

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As well as checking our Privacy Policy we have updated the website with check boxes for GDPR compliance.  Be aware that if you are signed up for the newsletter and other relevant ‘thatch’ updates you can, at any time unsubscribe.  Obviously, if you do, you may miss some good stuff!

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Social Media

Don’t forget to join us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.  Our growing numbers mean you must like what we are doing.  Acknowledging what we do is great and appreciated as well.

Please remember to join in our #TestitTuesday reminders by sharing/retweeting to remind your friends and followers. #workingtogether

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Next newsletter - 2019

  • What we have been doing
  • Updates
  • Thatch Tale
  • The importance of testing alarms
  • Thatch Advice Centre Associates
  • Pesky birds
  • Material Longevity
  • Master Thatcher
  • Finials …..  and more
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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 always looking for proven services to join us.  References are required.


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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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