We all need a roof over our head, but what kind would you like? It’s not as a daft a question as you might think, given that there are quite a few options out there.
There was a time when a thatched roof was just about the only choice available to most people – generally speaking, straw or reed in the South and ling (heather) in the North and Scotland.
The real boom in alternatives came with better transportation. Increased trade with other countries and the coming of the railways meant that new roofing materials became available, such as tiles from the Continent, and slate from Wales (the purplish kind) and Westmorland (the greenish kind).
Nowadays, these traditional roofing materials are still very much in use, but have been joined by new synthetic alternatives, which tend to be lighter, cheaper and quicker to install, if a little charmless.
In some parts of the country, one style of roof predominates above all others, but in our patch of Yorkshire there is a geographical divide between the hills of the west and the flat lands of the east, and the building materials and rooflines reflect this. Which means that if you’re in the market to buy a new home, you should have ample choice when it comes to roof-types – with the exception of thatch, which is rare in Yorkshire.
One of the very few thatched buildings in our district is 9 Water Bag Bank, which looks out across the River Nidd in Knaresborough and up toward the town’s iconic railway viaduct. Currently for sale, the Grade II-listed building is said to date back to the 13th century (which the Old Manor House, which it overlooks, certainly does).
The beamy house has three bedrooms, three bathrooms, two reception rooms and dining kitchen, as well as tiered lawns and patios. The current vendors have use of an allocated parking within the public-access-only area of Waterside.
Whereas thatched roofs need to be replaced periodically (at least every 30 years), most other roofs last far longer; England’s last working slate quarry sells its products with a 300-year guarantee!
In the Washburn Valley, Fewston Barn has the most solid of all coverings: stone slates, or flags. These are typical of older agricultural buildings of the Yorkshire Dales and are highly sought after.
It has beamed ceilings and exposed stone walls and there are four bedrooms, two bathrooms, two reception rooms, a kitchen and utility room. Outside, there are gardens backing onto woodland, ample parking space, and planning consent for a double garage.
Finally, Grange Cottage in Arkendale is built in style very typical of the rural areas east of the A61, running right across the Vale of York. Brick-built, it has a pantile roof, which is most common down the eastern side of England and Scotland, as well as some parts of the south coast and South West.
They are believed to be a legacy of our maritime trading past, when pantiles were brought back from the Netherlands and Belgium as ballast in merchants’ ships.
The cottage has four bedrooms, two bathrooms, office, three reception rooms, kitchen and utility room, plus gardens, off-street parking and outhouse storage.