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‘Thatch’ the way to do it!

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: June 25, 2014

  • 17/06/14 Thatched Roof Roof being thatched on a cottage on Main St in Tatenhill.

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THATCHED roofs epitomise the traditional English village, but the practice is in decline. When the Mail spotted a company working on a house in Tatenhill, we went to find out why that was.

PICTURE the quintessentially perfect English village – cottages around a green, a nice little pub, and thatch on the roof of each little house.

But the traditional covering has fallen out of vogue in the villages of East Staffordshire, and experts predict there are only around a dozen remaining in situ in Staffordshire.

And one of these is on Main Street in Tatenhill.

S.J. Eccles and Son have been carrying out the work on the traditional cottage for several weeks, with the aim of restoring it to its former glory.

Stuart Eccles, who runs the Melbourne-based business and has been a thatcher for 33 years, told the Mail: “We mostly work down south, because there isn’t much demand around here. Every county you get to further down south, there are more.

“It’s quite expensive, and that can put people off.”

Work began at the house in Tatenhill several week ago. The process should take three people around six weeks on a house this size.

They had to start by stripping the old roof, which had become damaged with age. They then had to felt the area to prepare it for the new roof, and then the thatching could begin.

“It’s a process very similar to tiling,” Mr Eccles said.

“You start at the bottom and work in a row.”

Bundles of straw are used to create the roof, which are laid next to each other on the roof and then trimmed and tidied.

The roof will be around 13 inches thick when it is complete.

It may seem like a lot of work and expense when tiles are available, but Mr Eccles said he could understand the attraction to the style.

“It’s pretty. People like the character that they get with a thatched roof, and it does look good. I love to do a good job with it, so people say ‘that’s amazing’,” he said.

And the perceived fire risk, which many people may see as a reason not to thatch, is apparently little more than a myth.

“It’s a popular misconception,” Mr Eccles said. “Thatch is not a particular fire hazard,”

The people who lived in the Main Street cottage were out on the occasions the Mail called round, but if the appearance of the roof so far is anything to go by, they will hopefully be pleased with the traditional roof on their charming village cottage.

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