Thatched Home News

Thatched Home News
By Kate Goldstone In Thatch News Posted 8th December 2015 0 Comments

It’s time for our latest run-down of news about everything and anything to do with thatched properties.

Thatched home news – National Fire Statistics 2013-14

The latest National Fire Statistics make interesting reading for thatched property owners, in no small part because fire officers have only just begun recording the type of roof for the fires they attend.

  • * A total of 39,600 house fires in Britain from 2013-14: 1.58 fires per 1000 properties
  • * 60 fires in thatched properties: 0.008 fires per 1000 properties
  • * 24 fires in listed buildings without thatch: 1.5 fires per 1000 properties

At the same time the National Society of Master Thatchers estimates around 60 thatch roof fires per year, a number that tallies nicely with the fire service’s figures.

Meet the National Society of Master Thatchers

What happens if your thatched roof is destroyed by fire or anything else? You’ll need to have it re-roofed, and that’s a job for the experts. Luckily Britain is not exactly swamped with cowboy thatchers. But it makes a lot of sense to find an expert, someone with all the experience, knowledge and creativity to make a splendid job of it.

You can’t go far wrong with the National Society of Master Thatchers. The organisation was established in 1967 and their website is a veritable feast of useful information, including a members directory, gallery and events calendar. If you need to get your thatched roof repaired or re-done, it’s your first stop for excellent service and highly-skilled work.

Creative straw roof décor

Does your thatch roof include a stylish straw ornament, AKA a straw dolly or cock dolly? Some thatchers have their own signature ornamentation, often a particular species of bird or some kind of animal.

In the olden days when hayricks and even stacks of straw were often thatched temporarily to keep the weather out, rick ornaments took all sorts of beautiful forms. Cockerels, pheasants and other British birds were popular, as were foxes, crosses and crowns, boats, apples, turnips and milk churns, usually fixed to the apex or gable end of the rick.

Stack and rick ornaments like this were though to keep witches at bay as well as keeping the contents safe from the ravages of birds. But what about the straw ornaments on the thatch of houses? They’ve been recorded as far back as 1689 and, while there are still plenty of traditional designs around, contemporary work includes quirky straw aeroplanes, peacocks, lambs, fish, pigs and even dragons.

If you’d like to see some of these folk art masterpieces for yourself, you can find collections in both Glastonbury Museum, and Perry’s Cider Mills Museum in Dowlish Wake, Somerset.

What about electrical fires in thatch?

Most thatch fires are started by open fires and wood burning stoves. You might think thatch came with an extra risk of electrical circuitry fires. But you’d be wrong. According to Britain’s 2012 fire statistics, the number of thatch fires caused by domestic electrics is very low indeed, so low it’s more or less impossible to distinguish. The real culprits seem to be electrical equipment itself, not the circuitry:

  • * 4 thatch fires started by a faulty deep freeze
  • * 1 thatch fire started by a fridge
  • * 1 thatch fire started by a downlighter and 2 by halogen lamps – always stand halogen heaters and downlighters at least 40cm from the thatch itself
  • * 2 thatch fires started by immersion heaters

As a general rule the better you look after and maintain appliances, and the newer they are, the less likely they are to cause fire.

The remainder of the responsibility for the non-chimney thatch fires examined was laid at the door of bonfires and BBQs, candles and naked flames indoors, working with hot materials / equipment and arson.

Roofs or rooves?

We’re old school. As far as we’re concerned, the plural of roof is ‘rooves’. But it’s a word that’s falling out of use fast, very rarely used these days. If you’re a stickler, we know rooves is correct. But we decided not to stick with a dying word when everyone else uses roofs.

Our decision is borne out by Microsoft’s spellchecker, which insists rooves doesn’t exist and doesn’t even suggest ‘roofs’ as an alternative. Rooves are, by all accounts, dead and gone. Long live roofs!

Any questions about insurance for thatched buildings?

Come back next time for more thatched home news, insight and views from us, your expert thatch insurance providers. We’re always happy yo talk things through with you, no strings attached.