If you are interested in supplying could you please
read the specifications section regarding the materials
you produce, these would be the minimum requirements
of most thatchers.
Any materials would have to be dry and free of mould,
disease, fertiliser outside the specification or pollutants and securely fastened to retain shape.
There is a demand for high quality material but standards are high.
- Advice is free -
to Straw Husbandry
Straw specially selected and managed in the field, Cut
with a binder and thrashed in a thrashing drum, the straw is then drawn
by hand into tile like bundles called yealms. These are usually fastened
on the old coat with spars after stripping off superfluous and decayed
materials. Normally strips called stelches are built up from the eave
to the ridge. The method is very labour intensive but is commonly seen
this will retain the "tea cosy" look and historic ceilings and
timbers are rarely affected. The disadvantage is the relatively short
life (25 years #)
and the reliance of this method on the fastening methods used on the base
coat fastened into, which was normally grass rope.
Combed Wheat Reed (Devon Reed)
This is prepared initially in the same way as long straw
but at the thrashing stage the drum is fitted with a comber attachment
which holds the sheaf of straw throughout the operation so that the straw
reappears as a sheaf with the leaf and grain stripped out. Apart from
the fact that the roof is usually sheared to a close finish and thatching
is horizontal in courses the fixing methods are similar to long straw.
In appearance the finish is a halfway house between long straw and Norfolk
reed and a life of (40 years #)
is expected. This method is probably the oldest straw roof as before the
thrashing drum appeared the sheaf would be flailed and then used to thatch
as we do now with combed reed
Reed (Water Reed, Marsh Reed, Continental Reed) Link
This material has come to dominate thatching in recent
years due mainly to the long life (75 years #)
and the fact that it is less labour intensive and quicker to learn for
the thatcher. The reed in the bed or rond is a naturally occurring stage
of the land encroaching on the marsh, but to develop good reed needs skilled
management of the water level and top hamper of dead material. It is cut
and used without any thrashing, with an Allen scythe adapted for the purpose,
or with a rice harvester as conditions are equivalent to a paddy field
for most of the cutting season which is winter time. Fixing to the roof
is normally by a steel hook driven into the rafter holding the reed under
tension by use of a horizontal sway, It used to be tied with tar cord.
Again water reed thatching is a very old method and not restricted to
the Norfolk Broads but used wherever reed could be found. Reed used to
be far more common than is appreciated, with monastery fish ponds and
tracts of marsh land abounding,
(Water Grass) External Link to Wicken
Fen For description of growth & harvest
Can be used as long straw but more often used as a
ridging medium for Water Reed. Cultivation, cutting and habitat
basically the same as reed; cut in Summer.
# Approximate only,
many variables can affect the life.
These notes are not intended to be definitive, merely 40 years observation
Care of Thatch
Drawings Of Tools