Thatched cottages could disappear in 20 years due to straw shortage

Traditional thatched cottages could disappear from the landscape in 20 years’ time because of a shortage of the right type of straw, Historic England warns

  • Historic England said thatched houses could be thing of the past within 20 years
  • High rents taking toll on thatchers, who can’t afford to pay for business premises
  • Thatching straw is longer than modern wheat varieties and yields less grain

Traditional thatched cottages could disappear from the landscape in as little as two decades – as the right type of straw is in desperately short supply.

Historic England warned that two poor harvests and a dearth of farms growing the requisite long stemmed winter wheat will mean the roofing can no longer be replaced. 

Traditionalist master thatchers are working with the quango to find a solution.

Alison Henry, of Historic England, told The Times: ‘If we don’t act soon we might as well give up and within 20 years we won’t have any thatched houses to speak of.’ 

Thatching straw is longer than straw from modern wheat varieties and yields less grain, although can command higher prices (Pictured: English cottage with thatched roof)

High rents were also taking their toll on thatchers, who can’t afford to pay for business premises.

Thatching straw is longer than straw from modern wheat varieties and yields less grain, although can command higher prices.

Dominic Meek, 49, a master thatcher in Sotherton, Suffolk, told the Times: ‘We need more small- to medium-sized farmers to get involved in growing thatching straw but the farms in East Anglia especially are so big now.

‘As guys have retired, those farms producing 40-50 acres have been swallowed up by bigger farms and it gets harder for thatchers to get straw.’

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