Oast cowl storm damage? we’re here to help

Recent storms have caused havoc across some areas in the country due to strong winds, rain and sleet affecting many oast house owners’ properties. If your cowl has stopped turning, you’ve noticed tiles are missing or your oast roof has been damaged, it might be worth having our expert team check them for safety and peace of mind.

Here are some useful links for you:

And for any oast cowl expert repairs, simply contact our Director Darren, who will be ready to save the day! 01622 725 898 / 07973 332 790


Five tips for getting your oast cowls ready for the year ahead

Get 2022 off to the best start by making sure that your oast house is ready for whatever the new year brings. Now that the festive season is done and dusted, it is time to get your oast house ready for the coming year. Good maintenance is essential to keep your oast house looking fabulous but it can also save you serious time, effort (and money!) in the long term. 

To make sure your oast cowls are looking their best this year: 

Check the paint

There is nothing nicer than a freshly painted bright white oast cowl. If yours is looking weatherbeaten and drab then it might be time for a refresh. This is especially important if the paint is starting to peel off. A repaint is not just about aesthetics, it can prevent costly repairs down the line. If you would like to know more about how we clean a cowl, take a look at our oast cowl cleaning tips for some valuable insights.


Listen out for strange squeaking sounds

Spend a little time listening to your oast cowl for any odd noises. If you hear any high-pitched squeaking noises, that’s your oast cowl crying out for some attention! Jokes aside, this can be a sign of something more serious so give us a call and we will come and take a look for you. 

Keep an ear out for banging noises

Banging is another sound of an oast cowl in despair. A banging noise should never be ignored. This must be checked as it could be damaging to the whole roof and the oast cowl. Basically, if it doesn’t sound normal then it should not be ignored.


Check for holes

Get up close and personal with your oast cowl and see if you can spot anything that doesn’t look quite right. If you see any holes then it might be time to get them down for a refurbishment as they can potentially become dangerous. Don’t be daunted by the thought of taking the oast cowl off, it is much simpler to refurb them once they are off the roof and as with most things prevention is always better than a cure (especially for your wallet!)

Malcolm Catmur Neame


Check that the oast is turning

An oast cowl needs to turn, that’s why it is there. So an oast cowl that is refusing to do a turn might be trying to tell you something. If you notice that your oast cowl is not moving, or not turning as and when you would expect then it is probably time to get us up there to figure out what is going on and to free it.  This is definitely something you should tackle sooner rather than later as if the oast cowl stops turning you may find that you start to get water in your home. If you want to learn more about why oast cowls were designed to turn in the wind, then check out our previous blog to get an insight into what is an oast house and how it works.


Don’t wait until it’s too late

To arrange a free quotation, or to discuss your individual requirements in more detail, visit our Contact Us page, or call us on 01622 725 898.

Five ways to winter-proof your oast house

Winter. It might come round once a year, and if you are not prepared it can end up costing you a fair bit.  This year has seen a dramatic rise in home working and many of us will be spending more time in our home this winter than ever. So making sure your oast house is ready for the upcoming season is essential.

Here are four tips to make sure you are prepared for whatever this year’s weather has in store for us:


Make sure your oast cowl is turning in the wind

Starting at the top, it is essential you check your cowl appears to be in good working order before any bad weather begins. Cowls make an oast house, they are their literal crowns, but they also bear the brunt of the relentless British weather. 

oast cowls in need of repair

The original oast cowls needed to turn in the wind to fulfill their purpose and they are still designed to work like this. If your oast cowl is not turning in the wind then it needs to be looked at.  


Ensure it doesn’t need refurbishment

Even if your oast cowl is still in working order it may be in need of a refurbishment. If the original bright white colour is a distant memory and the cowls look a little worse for wear, your oast cowls may be in need of a clean. To find out more about how we clean cowls, you can read our expert cleaning oast cowl tips.

dude and arnette repairing oast cowls


Make sure you do not have any missing tiles on your roof

Take a close look at your roof and carefully check the state of your tiles. Loose tiles on your oast house can cause issues such as leaks and over time missing tiles will damage your roof. Loose tiles can be blown off your oast roof – particularly in bad winter weather – so it makes sense to fix them before they get worse. 


Make sure your home is well insulated 

Energy prices are rising – a lot. This is something we are all aware of and many of us are concerned about. This winter, even more so than ever before, it is essential you limit how much heat you lose. Of course, good insulation and efficient heating systems are a big part of this but there are some simple steps you can take today to keep your home cosy:

  1. Use your curtains. Curtains play a vital role in keeping your home toasty. Make sure you open them in the morning to make as much use of whatever sunlight there is and then close them as soon as it gets dark to conserve heat. A substantial amount of heat from your home escapes through the windows so good fitting and warm – and even better thermal – curtains can make a huge difference.

  2. Roll out the rugs on uncarpeted floors. Oast houses often come with stone and wooden floors. Whilst this delightful decor is part of the charm of living in a traditional building, it can be cold. Rugs are a great way to keep your feet warm and to stop drafts. 
  3. Leave your oven door open after cooking. You have just spent a considerable amount of time heating it up so why waste all that heat? 
  4. Stop drafts in their tracks with draft excluders and by filling in any gaps around windows or doors.


If you think your oast cowls need a little TLC before the wintery weather arrives, please get in touch today.

Time to get your oast cowls ready

After having Covid-19 throwing any routine or normality out of the window, we’re pleased to announce that following Government advice – Dude & Arnette are back in action.

Normally we wouldn’t necessarily do a maintenance update but we felt it was necessary, as a lot of the oast cowl maintenance and repair work that would take place in early spring had to be paused completely due to lockdown.

So if you have an oast cowl, here’s what we’d recommend:

  1. We’ve seen a lot of rain this winter so a safety check would be the first thing to do to ensure there are no damages to the cowls and the roof
  2. After a safety check, you’ll get an idea of what might need to be done (oast cowl repair, clean, paint, re-build etc)
  3. The best thing to do if there aren’t any issues? Get your cowls freshly painted. This helps to weather-proof your cowls and makes them look their best. You might have done some indoors redecorations during lockdown, now is the time to give your home’s crown a bit of TLC!

Why you should have them painted, you ask? Well, oast cowl repairs can be costly, so avoid leaving it too late. When it comes to oast cowl maintenance, prevention is key, folks.

If you want to read more about how to clean an oast cowl, please head over to our blog for more oast cowl cleaning tips.

Want a non-obligation assessment? Contact us or call us on 01622 725 898 for an honest quote from our director Darren Hole.


Help! Does my oast cowl need cleaning?

Since 1937, we have been cleaning oast houses across the country, both inside and out. Our specialist team can clean, paint and maintain your oast house to the highest standard, bringing joy to many more generations. So, if your oast house is looking a little drab and dated, maybe it is time to give it a clean.

Why do I need to give my oast cowls a clean?

Oast cowl cleaning can prolong the life of your oast house. Committing to a good cleaning routine for your oast is a great investment for both your oast house and your wallet.

Carrying out an oast cowl cleaning gives us the opportunity to get up close and personal with your oast, spotting potential issues before they arise and making any potential repairs both easier and cheaper!

What should you do if you think your oast cowl might be in need of cleaning? Firstly, give us a call and we will give the cowl a servicing. To avoid issues, we recommend having oast houses serviced every 5 years. This keeps them in good condition, meaning they require very little upkeep.

oast cowl on the floor in need of cleaning

Can you give my oast cowl a wash?

The way we clean your oast cowl depends on if it is a fibreglass cowl or a traditional timber one. If your cowl is made of fibreglass – safe to say, this is not our favourite material – then we can wash and clean them easily. However, we would not want to wash wooden cowls as this can cause them to rot.

In case you are thinking this sounds like fibreglass cowls are a low maintenance option, think again. We actually find these to be a false economy. In time, bolts and fixings frequently rust solid and fungi can creep under the fibreglass top surface and sometimes into the mat – making it impossible to clean the oast cowls back to white. It is worth bearing in mind that often what appears to be an oast cowl in need of a clean is actually an oast cowl in need of a refurbishment.

How do you make my oast cowl look clean again?

The cowl is truly the crowning glory on your oast house and a re-painting can give it a new lease of life. With a bright and clean cowl, your home really will be the oast with the most. Cowls are exposed to the elements 24 hours a day, experiencing the very worse the infamous British weather can throw at them. Unsurprisingly, this onslaught can leave your cowls looking weathered and dull. But, this is not just about aesthetics. Not only does painting your cowls give them a fresh and clean look, but it also ensures that they are weatherproof, stopping rot and decay.

As you would expect from a team passionate about oast restoration, our painting process stands the test of time. After drying out and restoring the wood, we apply five separate coats of beautiful high-gloss paint.

Oast cowls after being cleaned and painted

Do you need to take the oast cowl away?

Our many years spent working on oast houses has taught us that refurbishing an oast cowl properly means removing it. Repairs are much more difficult when the oast is in position, and painting properly is impossible!

Invest in the lifespan of your oast house, and get in touch with our specialist team today for a free consultation and quote.

5 Helpful tips for oast cowl maintenance

Here at Dude & Arnette we know looking after oast cowls is a serious crafty business. And if you don’t do much to maintain them… well, a costly one. Our expert team uses traditional building and maintaining methods (perfected over 4 generations) to weatherproof and protect your roof and ensure your roof is tip top!

To help you get an idea of what’s required to maintain your oast cowl we’ve put together 5 recommendations:

1. Get them serviced every year

It might seem obvious, but we’d suggest having your oast cowl serviced every year. This is to avoid it from collapsing due to damage caused by weather conditions. Lucky for you, with Dude & Arnette you’ll be in safe hands. Our specialist team can strip and re-tile all types of kiln roofs, including brick and wooden, round or square roofs, making sure your roof is weatherproof. We can also replace ironwork and lead work for kiln tops, and craft bespoke kiln guttering. Phew!

Malcolm Catmur Neame


2. Have them down every 5 years to avoid as many repairs

Repairs can be costly, so avoid leaving it too late by having the cowls down for a check-up every five years. This will help you get an idea of the state of the cowl and avoid potentially costly problems that can develop with the wood- and iron-work due to weather conditions. Prevention is key, folks.

3. Always get the oast cowls down to refurbish

After we’ve assessed your oast cowl we bring them down using scaffolding or a crane, which is usually a fast and hassle-free process. We also cap the building securely to protect against the weather and any would-be nesting wildlife. Once the cowl is down, we sand it, remove all moisture from the wood before any paint work or repairs take place. If you want more detailed information of our step by step process, read how our cowl repairs work.

View of an oast cowl being transported to a roof

4. Check the top of the oast roofs when the oast cowls are off

It is as important to check the cowls as it is to check the top of the oast roofs. In some cases, where the cowls have been severely damaged, it may be more cost-effective to build a new traditional wooden cowl rather than carry out all of the repairs needed. If we feel that this is best, we will always advise clients in advance and discuss the options.

5. Banging or squeaking? Get your oast cowl serviced ASAP

If you hear any banging or squeaking coming from your roof we recommend you contact us as soon as you can to prevent any damage or water coming in.

If you are interested in our oast cowl maintenance services please get in touch today for a no obligation visit and we’ll organise a time to meet with you and assess your roof.

Curious about what we do? Follow us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter and watch us in action.

Oast House Restoration

It’s that time of year when those of us lucky enough to live in a period property are warming our feet by a large open fire. But period properties are hard work. Fact. They require tender, loving care, and a fair measure of expertise. It takes bravery and commitment to take on an oast house restoration and we’re always inspired by the clients we work with.

This month we spoke to Ecclesiastical and World Heritage Magazine about Richard and Jane Horobin’s project, two great examples of the bravery we admire. They transformed the Grade II listed Lydens Farmhouse, near Hever in Kent into a family home. And what a spot to work – with views over the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Committed to Kent’s history

What we liked about the Horobin’s was their commitment to preserving the historical features of the property. Which, luckily for us meant working with only the finest oast house experts in Kent! They meticulously used local joiners, bricklayers and other tradesmen when they could. For example, they used locally sourced oak to replace the original rotten timbers. And Tudor Roof Tiles (traditional clay Kent Peg tiles) that give an authentic, natural finish than modern tiles.

The historical building had no record or clues of how it used to look. That’s where our generations of experience came in. From the diameter of the roundel base, we knew exactly the height and style of oast cowl to build to be true to Kent’s history.

A year of oast house restoration

As the year draws to a close we’re so proud of our team and the oast house projects we’ve worked on across Kent, Herefordshire and Sussex. Thank you from us all for being amazing customers and we’re excited to working with you all in 2019.

Make sure to follow us on Instagram or Facebook to see what we’re up to in the new year, or get in touch to chat about your oast restoration needs.



The day that Doris battered the Hop Farm Oast Houses!

There’s a French saying, ‘force majeure’ (superior force) which strikes fear into any property owners heart. These unavoidable acts of nature, such as Storm Doris don’t come around often in the UK but when they hit they cause a whole lot of damage, as the team at the popular Hop Farm attraction in Kent found out.


If you can get the image of a little old lady battering an Oast Cowl with her handbag out of your head (!) then let us take you back in time to the day Storm Doris descended and reeked havoc on the Hop Farm’s historic Oast Cowls.


Hop Farm Oasts


On the 23rd February 2017, Doris blew in with gusto with winds of up to 94mph, whipping trees from their roots, and causing devastation across the country. We were called in to the Hop Farm the following day after they saw that their Oast Kilns has been badly damaged by the storm, with one cowl ripped off the pole and four others which had been badly damaged.


A venue famous for having the world’s largest collection of Victorian Oast Houses, and with wedding season fast approaching, it was imperative that they be restored to their former glory quickly, so we zoomed to the rescue – Superman style.




The cowl that had come off had been sealed by our team on the first visit, but on our return we removed the four additional damaged cowls and took them away to inspect and repair. After refitting, we decided with the site manager that a maintenance program for the cowls would be the best idea going forward to ensure the site continued to stay in tip top condition, a little like the painting of the Severn Bridge.


Although Doris is firmly in the bad books, we are pleased to be working alongside The Hop Farm, helping to restore and maintain their beautiful Oast Houses for thousands of visitors to enjoy year after year.


Team D&A to the rescue once again – now we’re off to hang up our capes and have a cuppa.

The Darling Buds of May

Do you remember the Darling buds of May TV series with David Jason and Catherine Zeta Jones? Well, we were offered the opportunity to work on the very same farm to put an oast cowl on an existing Kiln. We of course jumped at the chance to work on such an iconic property – with it’s non standard fitting it took all of our expertise and past experience to overcome every complexity.

Our first step was to build the scaffold around the kiln and take all the measurements.

The Darling Buds of May - Stage1


Then back to the workshop to construct the base and complete the pattern which was then taken back to site to make sure it fitted – this allowed us to start construction immediately.


Given the tight turn around time for this build, the team worked through the weekend to finalise the cowl construction and with all of  the preparation done and the construction ready it’s was time to fit the cowl – “on the roof goes!”

Oast Cowl Restoration in Progress

With the cowl fitted and everything looking secure & ready it was the ‘perfick’ time to take a picture of the team enjoying the view!

Another successful job by Dude & Arnette brought in on time and within budget.

More on Cowl Restoration Projects

Repair and maintenance is vital for your oast cowl

Oast houses across the UK stand as a testament to the history and heritage of our country. Although you can find oast houses in countries across the world, from Belgium and the Czech Republic, all the way to Australia, where they are known as hop kilns, they are synonymous with our stunning English countryside.

An oast house in Sevenoaks was recently revealed to be abandoned and left derelict, a shadow of its former beauty, with one oast collapsed and tarpaulin covering another of the buildings. Dating back to the 15th century, it’s a sorry state to see such a magnificent piece of history rot away.

abandoned oast houses

Although this is an extreme example of lack of maintenance and care, it’s not a world away from some of the oasts that we’ve visited over the past 75 years. Oast cowl repair and maintenance is vital. By carrying out regular maintenance you’ll ensure that your cowl is ready for the Great British weather, and help avoid costly repairs needed over time. Dude & Arnette recommend repairing and repainting your cowl every seven years, but each cowl is unique, and depending on whether we carried out the original work, you may have leeway with this timeframe.

Visit our Contact Us page, where you’ll find all of our details, or call us on 01622 725 898 to arrange a no-obligation assessment and quote from our director Darren Hole.