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The Green Room Theatre Books

Thursday 16th October 2008

Shakespeare's Globe will begin repair works to the roof of its iconic theatre on Monday 20 October 2008. In 1996, the theatre became the first thatched building in London since the Great Fire 330 years earlier, and was a crucial component in Sam Wanamaker’s vision to strive for a faithful reconstruction of Shakespeare’s legendary theatre. Today, it is recognised as one of the most famous thatched buildings in the world.

Experienced Master Thatchers, Phil Campbell and Kit Davis who both worked on the original thatching, have joined forces once more with their respective teams to undertake essential maintenance work on the ridge of the roof. A combined workforce of ten thatchers will use 800 bundles of sedge from the Norfolk Broads, 10,000 English hazel spars, 2,500 feet of liggers and 600 litres of fire retardant fluid; this large team will be working for an estimated four weeks in order to keep the disruption of the daily running of the Globe to a minimum.

Thatching remains a popular method of roofing in rural parts of England; however it is regarded as a dangerous material in cities. London’s first Building Regulation, the ordinance of 1212, banned the use of thatch to try to avoid the rapid spread of fire from one building to another. However, with the combination of a new chemical treatment for the thatch, together with a specialist sprinkler system, Shakespeare’s Globe was able to secure the necessary approval to use authentic materials in the rebuilding of the Globe theatre.

Shakespeare’s Globe will remain open during these works, offering daily tours, education programmes and a wide range of public events for visitors to engage with. Other onsite facilities include the Globe Shop and Swan Bar and Brasserie.

Phil Campbell made a career change from Loss Adjuster to Thatcher over twenty years ago. He now heads a team of three experienced thatchers including another Master Thatcher. His hails from Hampshire, and generally works in the south of England, but has worked all over the world. He famously made a straw Kangaroo for an Australian customer in the Isle of Wight which received international interest and an article in the Sydney Herald. Phil's overseas contracts have taken him to Ireland, USA, Virgin Islands and Taiwan. He was involved with the original Globe project. From small, listed country cottages to new housing estates with thatched roofs, Phil has tackled them all. Phil has been on the Executive committee of the National Society of Master Thatchers and was a judge for the National Best Thatched House award.

In being awarded the maintenance contract to renew the ridge and fire retardant to the roof of the Globe, Phil has teamed up with friend and fellow Master Thatcher, Kit Davis and his team, with whom he has worked on large scale projects both at home and abroad.

Kit Davis is an Oxfordshire-based thatcher with thirty years experience, working on both listed buildings and new build thatch. During this time he has work extensively in the UK and Ireland. Kit has also been involved in projects overseas in Taiwan, New York, Holland, Germany, Minneapolis and Florida. Kit runs a team of five skilled thatchers and an apprentice. Contracts often encompass extensive roof repairs for which green oak is sourced locally. Kit has been an active member of the National Society of Master Thatchers and was Chairman for several years. He is also a member of the Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire Master Thatchers Association. In 2006 Kit and his team won the Best Thatched House Competition run by the National Society of Master Thatchers and they have also just won for the second time, the local association Best Thatched House competition.

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