What is a Master Thatcher?


The term “Master Thatcher” is much used in the thatching world.

My Company – Master Thatchers (North) Ltd. is but one example, but what does the term mean or convey to people?

The chambers dictionary definition is a “Master” is one who is “eminently skilled in anything”. The definition of a “Master Workman” is one who “has set up on his own account or qualified to do so”; the term “Master Thatcher” was not listed although a “Master Builder” is one who directs and employs others.

Clearly there is the notion that the more experienced the tradesman is the more likely it is to become a “Master”. This experience must also be tempered by having skills which a less experienced person would not have. Some Thatchers who have therefore been thatching for a long time and working for another Thatcher could also in my opinion be called Master Thatchers – I am thinking here of family, firms where the father has reached an age where he spends less time on the roof and his son(s) and or daughter(s) carry out much of the day to day thatching.

Two key questions now need to be addressed:

  1. How long should a Thatcher have worked before he can be called a Master Thatcher?
  2. Who is the judge or the person or group of people who can agree that an individual can be called a “Master Thatcher”? Is it not the case that only another Thatcher can call a Thatcher a Master Thatcher?

One of my competitors on his website says of the term Master Thatcher:

“Master Thatchers work to high professional standards. They serve a rigorous five year apprenticeship, carry out a wide range of thatching work – both under supervision and on their own and pass examinations before they are finally allowed to call themselves a Master Thatcher!”

By introducing the term ‘apprenticeship’ there is an assumed agreement that there are key components that make up a course that is universally accepted by Thatchers. To my knowledge this is not the case. The difficulty lies in that a trainee or apprentice will be taught the way their employer has been taught – whether this is good or bad. The five year time period is again an arbitrary term – why five years and not four or six years? When Thatching Advisory Services Ltd started their franchise operations a six month training period was what potential franchisees signed up for.

Thatching courses have been run at Knuston Hall for many years but what are their examinations that apprentices have to pass and who are the examiners?

As with much in the thatching world there is a little agreement between Thatchers as to what contributes an accepted time period to learn the job.

I have been in the trade 30 years and have never taken a thatching exam and no one has ever suggested to me that I should or should not be called a Master Thatcher. Likewise none of my employees some of whom have been with me nearly 20 years are in the same position.

Until agreement can be reached between Thatchers on the two questions above unfortunately the term will remain vague.