Only in the 20th century did thatchers form collectively. In 1947 county-based Master Thatcher Associations (MTAs) were formed to improve and encourage high standards. The 12 regional MTA’s came together in 1967 to create the National Society of Master Thatchers’ Associations (NSMTAs) in order to present a national voice for the industry. By 1977 it was realised that individuals wished to be recognised as Master Thatchers in their own right. To accommodate the individual members a new constitution was drawn up and the name changed to the National Society of Master Thatchers.
The Council of Small Industries in Rural Areas (CoSIRA) didn’t want the identity of the County Associations to disappear so put together and funded a ‘Working Party’ with a representative from each County. After a couple of years this Working Party became the National Council of Master Thatchers Association (NCMTA). The NCMTA became moribund in 2002 although the county associations are still active.
The NSMT changed its name to its current form, The National Society of Master Thatchers Limited, in 1998 when the Society became incorporated as a Company Limited by Guarantee.
The National Society of Master Thatchers Ltd. represents about 350 thatchers or 30% of the industry and is the lead body in thatching today in the UK. The memberships of the National Society and the MTAs overlap, and their members also join them through peer assessment.
In 2010 NSMT held a meeting with thatching societies from across the world to share information about techniques, materials and thatching in general. This has resulted in the formation of the International Thatching Society (ITS) and we have seven country members.
The term ‘Master Thatcher’ is in real terms the same as ‘thatcher’ in that there is no formal test to pass. However, the term has become associated with a thatcher who is able and competent and has served an apprenticeship to the satisfaction of their teacher.