Formation – When the National Society of Master Thatchers (NSMT) was first established in 1967, with the guidance of The Rural Industries Bureau, it was formed as a “Company Limited by Guarantee”. This was pretty much standard practice for clubs and societies in those days. With various changes in legislation, in 1998 the Society was re formed and registered as the NSMT Ltd as it was felt that the status of “trustees” made members personally liable for any financial claims against the NSMT. The correct and full legal title of the Society is “The National Society of Master Thatchers Ltd. (A Company Limited by Guarantee)”.
Membership – Membership is open to any working thatcher provided they can meet quality standard. Membership requires that thatchers commit to the Code of Practice and support the training programme. The entry procedure for membership of the Society is through proposal by an existing member and peer review of workmanship. This ensures that the very highest standards of craftsmanship are maintained and clients can have confidence in thatchers who display the Society logo as part of their in-house business promotion. Thatching members are awarded an annual card equivalent to the CSCS Heritage Skills Card in recognition of industry accreditation. In addition the Society is considering encouraging its members to register for CSCS Heritage skills cards, but in the meantime production of an NSMT membership card can be considered as proof of competence and health and safety awareness.
NSMT activities – The Society has a long history of supporting research and innovation and were the primary sponsors of the Department of the Environment funded Partners in Technology Project CI 39/3/286 “Factors Affecting the Longevity of Thatch”. The project scored an unprecedented 18 out of 20 and was especially commended for its relevance to the industry.
All training, research, publications and presentations are self supporting and available to the public on request. Funding for all activities is from subscriptions and internally generated through the Society.
The Society was accepted as affiliate training members of the Association of Building Engineers (ABE) in 2008. This provides a mechanism for validation of the in-house apprenticeship scheme in addition to recognition for CPD training provided to members and attendees at Society events.
The Society was the runners-up for the prestigious National 2009 Association of Building Engineers fire safety award.
There are less than 400 thatching businesses in the UK, ranging from one man thatching in a very local area to the biggest with 15 employees managing an integrated system of straw production and thatching. In total there are between 600 – 900 working thatchers in the United Kingdom. The membership of the NSMT is between 130 – 140 thatching members.