The thatch work began February 2019. It was scheduled for August 2019 and was unexpectedly (and happily) brought forward by six months, due to a cancellation.

The thatchers, Dodson Bros Thatchers travel to/from Huntingdon and plan to work Monday to Friday 7am to 3pm for 5-6 weeks. So far there has been minimal effect upon our work and the vast majority of clients have been content to attend for counselling whilst the thatch work has been going on, despite me offering appointments outside of ‘thatching hours’.

The rest of this page is a progress report on the thatching work:

Thursday 7th February 2019, anticipating the scaffolding going up.

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By the end of the day, Robin and his team at Logic Scaffolding had put up the scaffolding, ready for the thatch work to begin.

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Monday 11th February 2019, Stuart Dodson from Dodson Bros Thatchers was first to arrive and later that day some water reed arrived, ready to go on the roof.

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Gradually a new roof began to appear,  on the back garden.

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Wednesday 13th February, the first signs of new thatch starting to appear as a roof on the house. Iain explained to me that the wire (lower left of photo) that will eventually cover the thatch to protect it, is fastened to wooden batons before the thatch is added. It is under the thatch from the start, rather than disrupt the thatch later.

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Thursday 14th February 2019, this is a dresser or leggett, being used by Shaun to dress the thatch (to knock, in this case water reed, into place and to firm up the thatch). Shaun told me today is the hottest day of the year so far and that is really helping to make it a warm and enjoyable day to be on the top of scaffolding working in the sunshine.

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Jack is removing the old thatch from the apex of the house (and posing for the camera!).

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Once Jack had removed the old thatch, he placed the new thatch ready to be fixed down. Here the new thatch is being placed at an angle to the side of the roof. The reason for this, Iain explained to me, is so the rain doesn’t twist the thatch over the side of the roof. The left side of the thatch, not shown in this picture, is placed under a base layer of thatch to anchor this down and further prevent it twisting over the side for the roof.

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Iain showing me his ridge knife! This is modified from a machete and has a hardened upper surface to keep it rigid and an old axe handle added. Primarily the ridge knife is used for cutting out the shapes seen on the ridge of the building and is also a multi-purpose knife for anything that needs cutting. Iain showed me how his ridge knife can be used for sharpening the ends of wood inserted into the thatch to hold it in place and it is a very sharp knife!

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Tidying up at the end of a day of good progress in the warm February sunshine, featuring a distant photograph of Shaun.

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Monday 18th February and Iain has been building a wooden support around the chimney stack for a lead covering to guide the water off the roof from the chimney area. This is a work in progress and the plan is for the lead to be added later this week.

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Meanwhile Shaun and Jack have been adding long-straw to the sloping part of the roof. The valley (to the left) is covered in water reed since this is more robust to the higher concentration of rain run-off.

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Tuesday 19th February and the warm sunny weather has helped with progress as the thatch is built higher up the roof and around a dormer window.

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Wednesday 20th February and Jordan from Reed Roofing has been creating the lead covering around the chimney stack. Cuts are made into the brick work and the lead is shaped around the chimney and wedged into place with pieces of lead.

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Meanwhile the focus for the thatching work has moved to another part of the roof, away from the lead work. Another part of the roof is having the old thatch removed to make way for the new.

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Our current favourite song:

 

More updates to follow.