Live on BBC One – Escape To The Country

Following on from our recent star turn on Channel 4’s Great British Home Restoration, we are now bringing you another TV appearance on the upcoming BBC One series, Escape To The Country.

  

 

A series that helps prospective buyers find their dream home in the country, Episode 49 sees presenter Steve Brown facing a double challenge in his home county of Kent, as he helps two sisters from London to buy a house each, albeit with different budgets and requirements…

Don’t miss this opportunity to see Dude & Arnette in action! Here’s how to watch the episode:

Monday 23rd May 2022 – 3pm, BBC One
Wednesday 25th May 2022 – 07.15am, BBC Two

The episode will be available to watch on BBC iPlayer for 30 days

Great British Home Restoration Case Study

Hopefully, you caught our recent TV appearance on Channel 4’s new tv series: Great British Home Restoration with Charlie Luxton, but in case you didn’t, you can still see us in action on Channel 4’s catch-up service More4. And for those who share our love for history and heritage, we’ve put together a case study with a bit more insights into the project, which we hope you enjoy. Here it goes:

First, a bit of background

When home restorer Hazel took on the challenge of turning her dilapidated oast house into an idyllic new home, we were lucky enough to be chosen for this incredible challenge.

After decades of living in her large farmhouse, it was time for 79-year-old Hazel and her beloved dog Lucy to downsize. And she had her sights on a new home – literally. Just a stone’s throw from her farmhouse lay a little-used oast house that was a shadow of its former self.

With the support of her friend Glyn and lots of enthusiasm from her builder Stu, Hazel began to restore this little piece of Kent’s heritage.

When host and architectural designer Charlie Luxton arrived at the oast, it was clear that this was going to be a big challenge. The oast house had lost its signature cone-shaped roofs, the 146-year-old brickwork was crumbling and it was far from habitable.

The plan was to strip out the entire interior of the building and add two new floors to the cooling barn – one housing the living and kitchen area, the second a bedroom and office. The roundels would house stairs to the upper floor and a lounge and a spare bedroom.

Great British Home Restoration Oast house
Image source: Channel 4

 

Adding the roof

As the new interior took shape, and it was time to start work on the roundels’ roofs – which thanks to their conical shape is less than straightforward. Enter Dude & Arnette.

The roofs are constructed by adding a ring of cement and sand on top of the roundel and then placing a wooden roof plate on top. This must be completely level to ensure the roof does not lean. A challenge given the old, uneven brickwork.

Once completed, four wooden rafters connected with cross braces are added. On top of this, a wooden ring is placed and then many more rafters are added in to give the roof its iconic conical shape. The cone is then covered with felt and tiled.

Again the cone shape poses a challenge when tiling. Darren and team use traditional handmade Kent peg tiles to tile the new roof. Following the techniques perfected over almost a century in business, the team get to work adding the tiles. They use squares and tapers so that any tiles that begin to drift downhill are swung back into position by the taper. Then every fifth row some cement is added to ensure that once they are in position they are not coming off – regardless of the weather! As Charlie says ‘tiling the exterior of the roof takes great skill and craftsmanship’.

Four weeks later and Darren and builder Stu complete the roof and Hazel’s new home is beginning to resemble its original mid 19th-century self.

 

Creating the cowls

The last stage of the build is to add the oast’s crowning glory, its white pointed cowls. 

Each cowls rests on a long wooden pole that lets it rotate a full 360 degrees. When the wind blows the cowl always has its back to the breeze. This simple and traditional design still works perfectly today. 

Here at Dude & Arnette we still make cowls by hand the traditional way. And that sense of tradition is not only seen in the techniques used, Darren still has his ancestors original toolbag!

Every cowl that comes through the doors of Darren’s workshop have their own tale to tell. A great example is the layer of green paint often discovered while refurbishing old cowls This layer immediately tells the team any cowl they are dealing with is at least 70 years old. During the second world war, cowls were coated in camouflaging green paint to stop them being used as landmarks for the Lufftwaffe.

 

Adding the cowls

The arrival of the cowls is a landmark moment in the restoration. First, a 22-foot rotating pole that the cowl will be fitted onto, is fixed into place. Then comes the nerve-racking part of the process for everyone watching. Cowls can weigh a whopping 220kgs and the ones going on top of Hazel’s roundels needed to be lifted 20 metres into the air. Not only that, but just as the crane arrived the wind picked up (eeeek!).

As Hazel watched in anticipation, one cowl made its way safely onto the roof and placed onto the waiting roundel. Soon followed by the second one.

The final step is to add the bespoke fingers – one with a motif of a dog, to reflect Hazel’s love of dogs and one featuring a cow to represent the farm’s history. Finally, after 50 years the oast house has been returned to its former glory. 

great british home restoration oast house with dude and arnette

To sign off the job, Darren hands Hazel her cowl service book. But this is no boring pile of papers. Based on an old tally stick that would have been used as hop pickers as a way of counting how many bushels had been picked, this piece of wood can now be used to record the history of Hazel’s new cowls.

Now the interior has been completed, Hazel and Lucy are well and truly settled and enjoying life in their wonderful piece of English heritage.

‘Another bit of history saved’

We’re live on Channel 4

If you are fascinated by British heritage and love a good ‘before and after’ transformation you’re in for a treat. Last week Channel 4 launched a brand new series with Charlie Luxton called Great British Home Restoration, a tv programme following couples and families that transform historic buildings into their ultimate dream homes… and guess who’s done one of the restorations? yours truly! Here’s the promo video, can you spot us?

Don’t miss this opportunity to see Dude & Arnette in action simply tune into More4 (Channel4 on demand) on Sunday 1st August, 9pm to watch our episode where we turn an oast house into a dream home!

 

Filming an oast cowl construction with Channel 4

The guys from Channel 4 love a good oast cowl construction. Back in 2017 they featured us in their Village of the Year programme showcasing the history of oast cowls and Kent peg tiles. This time, they approached us to film the construction of an oast house a from start to finish. This is part of a programme that will showcase the build of different traditional buildings, each one being different and unique (a church, a windmill). With faces most definitely made for television, who were we to deny the public this experience?

They were particularly interested in watching us build the two oast house roundels (the roof) and the two oast cowls. As highly trained craftsmen and a fourth-generation family business, we know this process very well. We restore and rebuild oast houses and oast cowls from scratch and over the years, we have worked on all types of oast houses across the country, including buildings listed with local heritage departments.

Building an oast owl from scratch

We started the construction by pitching the two oast roofs known as roundels. We then used Tyvek (flash spun high-density polyethene fibres) to weather each kiln. After that, we used counter batten up each rafter, so that when we lathed the kiln it could hold the tile nails away from the Tyvek preventing holes. We then made onto the counter baton to work out where every row of tiles had to go so that they were evenly spread up the kiln and weathering one another.

oast cowl construction  Oast cowl structure being put together  oast construction filming

Going onto the makes we added the lath, which is wood that’s run out really thin and therefore gives us an opportunity to bend it and pin it around the roof. The lath also serves as a base for the tiles. We used tapered and square tiles as due to their shape they’re able to go around the roof without running downhill. Once the tiles were on with lead and fibreglass, the top was ready for the oast cowl.

Preparing tiles for oast construction  oast construction tiles . oast cowls built in the warehouse

The last step of the process is to add the oast cowl on top, which we are in the process of putting on so watch this space for the final snaps!

Whether you’re interested in oast construction, installation or kiln roof maintenance, get in touch with our specialist oast cowl build team for a clear, honest and concise quote and we will organise a visit to your oast house at a time that suits you.

Want to see how we finish this project? Follow us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter for the latest oast updates.

Featured on: Village of the year 2017

The word village conjures up nostalgic images of cobbled streets, thatched cottages, local boozers and of course, Oast Houses. Being the UK’s leading experts in all things Oast, when Channel 4 launched their search for the Village of the Year 2017 they came to us to learn the history of oast cowls and Kent Peg Tiles. With faces most definitely made for television, who were we to deny the public this education?

 

Off to Goudhurst we went and filmed a live and unscripted interview which was both terrifying and a great experience in equal measures. During the interview, our main man, Darren explained the history behind Dude & Arnette and also why we advocate the use of Tudor Roof Tiles in oast cowl refurbishment. These traditional peg tiles are handmade in Kent using methods which combine age-old craftsmanship with advanced firing techniques. The process ensures each tile has its own unique colour and character and most importantly, allows the oast roof to continue to retain its authentic appearance. We install these ourselves, but when we are in need of assistance we often call upon award-winning Kent Peg Tiling company, Karl Terry who are specialists in restoring the roofs of heritage properties.

 

Village of the Year is presented by the legend and actress that is Penelope Keith, who also featured in Channel 4’s popular ‘Britain’s Hidden Villages’ series. Penelope has spent most of 2017 scouring the length and breadth of Britain to discover the most scenic and interesting villages, rating them across a range of categories;

  • Appearance
  • History & Heritage
  • Village Events
  • Activities
  • Visitor Experience

 

The winning village will receive £10,000 towards a worthwhile community project. Make sure to keep an eye out for us when the show airs on the 23rd January let us know what you think!

In the meantime, we’re off to practise our BAFTA speech…

Ever seen a team of Oast Cowl experts blush?

As a independent, family-run company we rely on good feedback from our previous customers, and word of mouth recommendations in particular give us a warm fuzzy feeling.

So imagine our delight when we received an email trail from a prospective customer, Lisa who had been looking into getting her Oast Cowls restored. Enter Sophie, who had previously used the services of our rather *dapper ‘gents’ and was singing the praises of Dude & Arnette from the top of her pristine Oast Cowls (oh what an image!).

Hi Lisa

Darren and his team did all the repairs on our twin Oast roof. We were so pleased with the standard of work as well as the lovely team of gents that came every day.

We bought our beautiful home a few years ago only to find that not only had the Oast cowls been “bodged” and leaked, but our chimney also leaked and also our roof – great!!

I put in a huge amount of research re the cowls especially as didn’t have a clue not ever owning an Oast before.

Dude and Arnette came across to be not only professional, knowledgeable and honest but also competitive in price and reliable and trustworthy.
I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending them for any job no matter how big or small.

They organised everything for me using their regular scaffolders they trusted and keeping me regularly up to date with progress and costs.

Our final bill came in exactly as planned- no horrible hidden extras.

Both cowls were re done inside with the water baffles and on the outside in bitumen and look a-mazing!! As well as the And are completely waterproof and weatherproof to everything thrown at it.
We live at the top of hill with valleys either side – it’s very punishing sometimes with the wind and rain.
They also cleaned my white cowl tips so they are pristine again and I had them organise and fit black motifs to them whilst up there – all in all a fantastic job!!

I have subsequently recommended them to others and they have returned to do other jobs for me and I am just about to use them to refurbish our out house.

In my opinion, you are in safe hands and could not choose a better firm to carry out the works on your home.

I will send you some photos of our roofs – please don’t hesitate to ask me anything else if you wish

Kindest Regards
Sophie

Thanks Sophie, if you ever fancy a job in the marketing team then give us a call – we’d be happy to oblige!

Love this story? Take a look at what our previous happy customers have said about their Oast Cowl restorations, from repairing storm damage to providing a much needed ‘facelift’.

*Ok we added in the ‘dapper’