Dairy Cottage – As broadcast in Channel 4’s Grand Designs

UK - Devon

Thatch roof protection

UK - Devon

The remarkable performance of SUPALUX® fire protection board has been dramatically demonstrated on the popular television show, Grand Designs.

The boards play a critical role in the second show in the new series. They are a key component in the rebuilding of a beautiful New Forest cottage, which had been gutted by fire.

The filming included burning two dummy thatched roofs, one built using SUPALUX® Thatchboard, one without. Hampshire Fire Service put the two to the test. The fire tore through the thatch on both roofs, and within minutes the structure without SUPALUX® imploded. The SUPALUX®-protected structure survived; the timbers beneath were not even charred.

The homeowner’s Alex Reay and Cheryl Robson were convinced. They installed a state-of-the-art fire protection system, including pumiced chimney lining, sensors and SUPALUX® Thatchboard over the rafters below the thatch.

This was a first for Promat – to have SUPALUX®’s outstanding performance recorded so vividly. SUPALUX® passed the test, with flying colours, on a television show watched by millions.

The Grand Designs project must stand out as one of the most riveting. The show focused on the experience of Alex Reay and Cheryl Robson. The couple had moved from London to the New Forest in Hampshire, buying and restoring a cottage dating back to the 16th century.

Then, just before Christmas two years ago, Dairy Cottage was all but destroyed in a fire. The culprit was a faulty chimney, which allowed heat to pass through cracks in the brickwork and set alight the cottage’s thatched roof.

Firefighters were at the scene of the blaze within 10 minutes. But their best efforts failed to save the couple’s home. They took six hours to quell the flames, and what remained of the thatch still smouldered a week on.

Grand Designs told the story of the transformation of Dairy Cottage, from ruined, blackened remains to a stunning home that combines traditional building methods with contemporary design. By fitting SUPALUX® Thatchboard, Alex Reay ensured the new thatch roof was made safe and the rest of the cottage would never again be vulnerable to a roof fire.

Homes with thatched roofs are actually no more likely to catch fire than other properties. But the results are often far more destructive. Once fire is in the thatch, there’s little you can do. The fire can start deep down in the thatch and smoulder until air is reached, at which point it spreads at terrifying speed, and it becomes


SUPALUX® Thatchboard can reduce the fire risk substantially and make thatch safer. It acts as a barrier between the thatch and battens and the timber below. This gives firefighters the time to rake off burning thatch and so save the building. And, easily fitted, SUPALUX® can go in with new build, be retrofitted to existing buildings or be installed when re-thatching.

For Promat UK, Grand Designs has been further confirmation of what many in the business know: in passive fire protection, Promat products can be counted on to perform when the heat is on.