TWO young men are hoping to forge a successful business in one of the UK's most traditional crafts.
Master thatchers Jack Stiles, from the Lizard, and Toby Marr, from Penzance, set up South West Thatching in April last year and are about to start their first major project in Cornwall on a property on the Lizard.
Mr Marr apprenticed in Exter and Bude, then sub-contracted in locations across the south of England before returning to Cornwall a couple of years ago, and meeting up with Mr Stiles on several jobs, which included the re-thatching of the Pandora Inn following a massive blaze which destroyed it three years ago.
"I always wanted to come home and set up my own business and last year, having met Jack and talked about the idea with him, we decided it was time to take the plunge."
Since launching the business, most of their work has been in Devon where not only are there more thatched houses than in Cornwall but also a higher level of disposable income.
And Mr Marr accepts that it has not been easy setting up as a pair of young thatchers, particularly in the current economic climate.
"Because money is tight, people who have thatched roofs are tending to leave off having them replaced until the very last minute when the water is pouring in," he said.
"And the owners also tend to be very loyal to their thatchers so it is quite difficult getting a look-in. But we have done a lot of leafleting and advertising and hopefully, once we do this job on the Lizard, people will get to hear that we are young and enthusiastic and know our job."
The pair are also trying to diversify by doing smaller projects such as thatched gazebos, seats and birdhouses.
And they are crossing their fingers that the thatching they did indoors for the Out of the Blue Bar in Porthleven on behalf of the Blue Anchor in Helston will lead to their being commissioned to thatch the famous Spingo pub in Coinagehall Street when their roof needs replacing.