Newsletter September 2017

Hello everyone,

Do we have a packed and diverse newsletter for you!

We have been extraordinarily busy working for the good of thatch in such a wide variety of ways so we have so much to mention.

The ‘In this Newsletter‘ list below will help you quickly see how many differing topics we have covered this time.

Many thanks to all our friends, associates and other contributors who help us with sharing information on ‘all things thatch’.  All of your supportive and positive comments are also really valued as it shows that our hard work is appreciated.  As you will see, good progress is being made and our circle of contacts is forever growing.


Winner – Thatched Business Pic Competition

Fleur De Lys – Pilley, Hampshire.

thatch advice centre- fleur de lys

In this Newsletter:

Click on the title to show the details.

What we have been doing?

  • Helping a lot of people with questions like purchasingvermin and birds, thatchers with problems on a range of topics (below we have a couple of queries you may be able to help us with).  Working with our associates on questions they have and also forwarding queries to them.
  • Chimney Sweeps seminars – spreading the word on the very important updates in the fight against thatch fires – additional information on the proven causes.  It is a high priority to us to help as many people as possible and chimney sweeps are excellent and like minded specialists who can and want to join us in reducing the thatch fire risks. Thanks to GOMCS, NACS and APICS.
  • Writing and Sharing useful and interesting articles on social media  – from grants to amazing designs or our regular #ThatchThursday Question and Answer slots or #TestitTuesday reminders.
  • Writing several articles on the website, see below for details and links.
  • Setting up Pinterest social media account – join us and pin your thatch pictures to our special sharing boards – see below for more details


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The Thatch Advice Centre Website - Updates

thath advice centre- portland museum thatch appeal

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Updates from previous Newsletters

Portland Museum – target reached and rethatched.

#TestitTuesday This is growing in engagement so join us (or send us some pictures we can use  – credit will be given to you) have a look at FBTwitter or Pinterest to get some ideas.  Thatch related is good but we have even used a picture of toast! Remembering to test your Smoke and CO alarms must be part of everyone’s fire safety.
Fire Protection Association Research update – see Thatch Fire Safety Advice progress section below.

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Thatch Fire Safety Advice - Progress

Recently we spoke to Historic England who confirmed that:-

“The first three phases of research into causes of fire in thatched buildings, carried out by the Fire Protection Association on behalf of Historic England and NFU Mutual is complete, and the research report will be published within the next couple of months. A leaflet for owners of thatched buildings, offering advice based on the research, will be published at the same time. It is planned that these publications will be launched at a series of regional events in November.”

As soon as these events are confirmed we will be able to let you know via the website and our social media.  We can, if you prefer, send you an email with this information.  Please email with the Title FPA Update, quoting your name and company (if applicable) and we will be happy to email you this information when it becomes available.

HETAS Thatch advice has caused confusion to many of our visitors, especially in light of the recent forensic and Fire Protection Association work. Our tenacity and promoting #workingtogether is well known.  We understand that change takes time and are very pleased to have received the following confirmation:-

“HETAS are in the process of reviewing current thatch advice in mind of additional information, research and product development.  Chimneys in Thatched Properties (HTN001) remains current”.  Obviously their current advice remains until updated.

These type of changes don’t happen overnight but this acknowledgement is progress and we look forward to hearing from them regarding timescales for this eagerly awaited draft update.

An interesting development with LABC approval, critically involving thatch, has caused us far too many enquiries in relation to building regulations, the Dorset model and fire resistance over rafters.

LABC responses have been disappointing and very slow, and still we wait…  Nothing specific to report at this stage except to remind you to be aware of what you are trying to achieve and what products you are using to meet those requirements.

Amendment to wording on Thatch Fire Safety Leaflet to avoid any potential conflict – removed the words chimney engineer and replaced with specialist.

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Social Media Mates

Teme Valley Heritage Engineers

thatch advice centre Teme Valley

Adam Marriott (Teme Valley Heritage) kindly sent us some fabulous pictures of his thatching straw harvest.  He is an active member of The National Thatching Straw Growers Association and we are pleased to have them as social media mates.  We also look forward to discussing this years’ harvest in terms of quality, quantity and straw varieties.


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Roofs Decaying


Thatching materials are a natural product which will decay over time.

There are many reasons why a roof will decay from quality of material, aspect and design of roof to quality of thatching and weather conditions.  Signs of roof decay are indications which help thatchers in determining the need for thatched roof maintenance.

A new thatch, often with wire netting over the ridge or whole roof, looks straight, bright coloured and fabulous but, as time progresses, it will start to wear and decay.  Nothing to worry about just natural decay of the natural product.  The colour will change to a silvery grey and, as time progresses there may be areas which succumb to the weather e.g. valleys and around windows or under the chimney.  These areas may present with darker patches and worn areas.  Moss and lichen growth are also attracted to elevations where the thatch is starting to deteriorate.  Ridge spars will become raised and the materials drop so that wire is often left in situ where the thatch used to be.  With all of this evidence of decay the roofs may well be still serviceable.  Understanding when that level of decay requires attention comes down to thatchers experience and expertise.

Recent enquiries from a thatched homeowner whose roof had not lasted, lead to an inspection with shocking results.  Apparently the straw was ‘steaming’ when it arrived.  Please be aware this is not normal and obviously the material was wet and had started to decay before it was put on the roof.  No wonder the roof was leaking within a couple of years.

We also have had a lot of conversations on condensation in thatched properties so reiterate that thatch needs to breathe in order to maximise longevity.  The design of buildings is very important when it comes to things such as condensation, especially with thatched roofs.

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Thatch Preservation


We have been happy to help the Tithe Barn Trust promoting their Sponsor a Sheaf Campaign, in their endeavours to raise money to maintain this barn which has been standing since medieval times.  Please help if you can.

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Competition Winner

Pub, Hotel, B&B or Business

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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Thatch Advice Centre Associates


Welcome to our new Thatch Directory advertisers and Thatch Advice Centre Associates.

Stephen Letch, Master Thatcher
RJ Matravers Builder/Thatcher
North Mill Stoves (woodburner and flue specialist)
Bryan Cater Chimney Sweeps
John Read Chimney Sweeps
Chelmer Chimney Services
Paul Dunn of PD Electrical
CGA Protect – Thatch insurers
Lloyd & Whyte Heritage – Thatch Insurers
Breckland Brush – Chimney Sweeps


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Thatch Tale


Thanks to Tim Cox from Anglia Pest Management for his amusing tale…  or tail?

“I was called out to a customer’s house by the cleaner one day to deal with a squirrel in the sitting room. When I arrived the cleaner whispered “it’s in there” pointing towards the living room door. Armed with a fishing landing net, I slowly and quietly opened the door, a small gap at first and then gradually a bit wider, then a bit wider still.

I could see nothing moving (I was expecting the squirrel to be whirling around the room like a mad thing) but nothing moved at all. I opened the door further, and then I saw the tip of its tail poking out of an arm chair cushion. I crept over to it very very slowly and as quietly as I could until I was within range of the landing net – I swooped as fast as I could with the net, GOT IT! But still it didn’t move, I wriggled the net a bit and still no movement. It had died burrowing into the seat cushion of the arm chair with only its arse end and tail protruding!

The room was an absolute mess, the squirrel had gnawed pretty much every piece of furniture including all the curtains and glazing bars of both windows. I traced its route of entry into the room via the wood burning stove and the chimney flue. Not that surprising until I tell you that it’s a tall two story thatched house 18 ft to the eaves and 35 ft to the ridge with an 8ft 6 inch ornate chimney terminating in a 6 inch flue. How the squirrel got up there and why, I have no idea, but it did! The customer now, never leaves the stove doors open anymore!”

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Can you help?

thatch advice centre spider

We have received two questions which you may be able to help us with.

  1. Grain weevil in thatch?
  2. Are Thatching materials, agricultural or industrial?

Please send us an email with any knowledge you have on these thatch related topics or phone number so we can have a chat.


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Our great pictures of ‘all things thatch’ have meant that Pinterest was the next logical step to take in engaging a wider audience.

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)

We have also set up three new 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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Next Newsletter

Next newsletter – 2018

  • Regional Thatch (hoping the winter will afford more time for website updates)
  • Quality issues
  • Thatched Tale
  • Social Media Mates
  • Specifications
  • Thatchers knowledge
  • National Trust
  • 2017 harvest
  • Famous Thatch


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Thatch Directory Categories

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.

·  Architects
·  Builders
·  Building Surveyors
·  Chimney & Flue Specialists
·  Chimney Sweeps
·  Electrical Engineers
·  Fire Safety Products & Supplies
·  Garden Buildings
·  Health and Safety
·  Insurance
·  Leadworkers
·  Master Thatchers
·  Organisations/Publications
·  Preservation & Pest Control
·  Quantity Surveyors
·  Reed & Straw Dealers
·  Scaffolding
·  Security
·  Solicitors
·  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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