Tristan da Cunha Thatched House Museum: Opening of the Thatched House Museum
Opening of the Thatched House Museum, which is a newly built traditional Tristan cottage thatched with New Zealand flax.

Opening of the Thatched House Museum

Tristan Traditional Thatched House Museum
– a new live museum built using traditional materials and methods by Tristan Islanders in 2012
and opened on 19th December 2012

This page features the opening of the house, further work and early 2013 visitors
to go to the latest update click the Latest News Bulletin or start at the top and work down
To look at how the Traditional Thatched House Museum was built go to the separate Building the Thatched House page

Photo left shows the principal group assembled for the Opening Ceremony on 19th December 2012 from Tina Glass

Above Left and Centre ~ The core team of pensioners who masterminded the building of the new Tristan Traditional Thatched House
on the Thatching Day held on 7th November 2012
: Left to Right: Donald Hagan, Anthony Rogers, Ches Lavarello, Herbert Glass, Eric Glass and Joseph Green
The whole Thatching Day Team pose outside the splendid new traditional Thatched House on 7th November 2012
Getting everything ready for opening:
Martha Glass on a stool by the open hearth - similar to a scene she would have experienced as a child in her family home.
Care has been taken to source furnishings typical of basic Tristan da Cunha cottages.

Opening Ceremony
on Wednesday 19th December 2012

Photos from Tina Glass
and report from Dawn Repetto


Above: Dawn Repetto giving
her speech

Left: The Tristan flag being raised
at the west gable end

Right: 'Uncle' Andrew Glass
preparing to open the house

Dawn's speech of welcome:

Thank you all for coming here today to help us mark this very special occasion of the opening of the traditional thatched house.

When I first took over the post of Tourism Coordinator in 2009 I was inspired by a close family member to build a traditional house. Since all Tristan homes had now been housed with zinc the idea grew and I thought it would be great to build a Live Museum for visitors and also a relic for our younger generation so they will always remember how our ancestors lived so many years ago.

I remember very clearly going home and telling my dad this plan to build a traditional house and his response was”get the damn out of this you’ll never get a thatched house built”. My dad was in fact correct to a point, as without the commitment and dedication of Herbert, Ches, Donald, Anthony, Eric, Joseph and Piers this house would never have been possible. It has been a great privilege to work alongside the older generation of Tristan and see their attitudes to Tristan life and hard work. My only wish will be that this house will one day help our younger generation to see Tristan through their eyes.

Today the house will be blessed by Lars and James to represent our community’s two religions. Uncle Andrew will officially open the house as he is the oldest living member of the Glass descendants and we thought it appropriate that it should be opened in memory of William Glass the founder of our community.

To get to this point has been a real community effort and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those people who have worked on the house, assisted with ideas and loaned or made items to place inside the house, you know who you are. I would also like to thank Sean our Administrator for the support he has given us throughout this project and last but certainly not least I hope you will join me in saying a big big thank you to the pensioners for making the communities dream a reality.

Left: Lay Preachers bless the house
Left to right ~ Chief Islander Ian Lavarello, Administrator Sean Burns,
Catholic Lay Preacher James Glass,
Anglican Lay Preacher Lars Repetto,
Dawn Repetto

Right: Andrew Glass cuts the ribbon to open the house

Speech from Chief Islander Ian Lavarello
A few years ago it was fashionable to agree with that saying “History is Bunk”. Personally I've always thought it wise to remember the other expression: “Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it”. Quite simply, if we don't know what's gone on in the past, how can we cope with the future?
All of which, I think, makes today's opening of our Traditional Tristan Thatch House so important, as Tristan depends today and will in the future for its survival on the lessons from our pioneering forebears and how they built a life here in the South Atlantic, so far from anywhere else.
There's a real danger that as we become ever more dependent on technology and the internet – and we deal more and more with the outside world -- that we forget what it took to make life possible here on Tristan. Nothing is more fundamental than our homes and the shelter and warmth they accord us, so building of this traditional house is especially important.
It was a wonderful initiative by our Tourism Coordinator Dawn Repetto, to let today's younger generation learn from the older ones how a traditional house was built – right from cutting the rock, finding the wood, building the walls, thatching the roof and fitting it out. Of course, it will be a big draw too for visitors, who are fascinated by the story of those pioneers and how they battled the elements to make a life here for themselves and their families.
So – special thanks today must go to everyone who helped plan, build and complete this wonderful project – and I'd like to give a special big public “thank you” to Ches, Herbert, Anthony, Donald, Joseph, Eric and Piers for all their hard work in making it possible.

Left and Right:

Lay Preachers
Lars Repetto and James Glass
bless the inside of the house

A portrait of HM Queen Elizabeth II
is hung proudly in the new house
as it has done in many loyal Tristan homes
for many years

Administrator Sean Burns presenting commemorative plaques to : Above Left ~ Organiser Dawn Repetto, Above Centre ~ Donald Hagan, Above Right ~ Joe Green; Below left ~ Eric Glass; Below Centre Piers Hagan; Below Right: Anthony Rogers


Pupils from St Mary's School
tour the house
with teachers
Marlene Swain
and Yvonne Glass

Left: Table complete with cloth cutlery and crockery
Centre: Triumphant builders with 'Uncle Andrew'
Back row: Herbert Glass, Eric Glass Joseph Green and Anthony Rogers
Front Row: Piers Hagan, Andrew Glass, Ches Lavarello and Donald Hagan.
Right: Eric Glass, Andrew Glass and Joe Green
All are showing their commemorative plaques.
Editor's Note:
It has been a privilege to put together the thatched house pages from my home in Somerset which chronicle the remarkable project to build a new Tristan Traditional Thatched House Museum directly beneath the 1961 lava flow, dedicated to community founder William Glass and the only house east of the Big Watron.
Dawn Repetto's vision and commitment to this project has been exceptional. The community should be proud of what Dawn, her pensioner builders, and the larger team have accomplished. No doubt the museum will also be a mecca for tourists lucky enough to visit the world's most isolated village.
Congratulations to all.
Further work to improve the Thatched House Museum in January 2013
Photos from Tina Glass
taken on 31st January 2013
Traditional chimney stone
and the dramatic rocky backdrop
Smart new front path complete
A corner cupboard
A drainage ditch dug behind
Eric Glass paints a knife box as Donald Hagan (left) and Anthony Rogers (right) look on

Right: Joseph Green crafts
a 'chowder stick' on a lathe

This utensil was used to mash food items
and we look forward to a photo of a demonstration before long!

Right: Cutlery box installed next to the wooden mantle shelf on 4th February

One of the first groups to visit the Thatched House Museum were from the German research vessel RS Maria S. Merian made a successful visit on 9th January The photos from Wolfram Geissler show Dawn with the German guests at the museum that day.


Tristan's oldest resident
Granny Ellen
inspects the new
Traditional Thatched House


Lorraine Repetto
took 94 year old Granny Ellen
to visit the splendid new
Traditional Thatched House
on 13th February

Ellen (Helen) gave a wonderful tribute to the authenticity of the new building when she said "my house was painted just like this when my daughter Catherine was 21".

Catherine was 21 in 1960
and Ellen born in 1918.

Building a Toilet in February - March 2013
Photos from Dawn Repetto
General view looking west from the
1961 lava flow with the thatched house
in the centre on 17th February
Side walls go in
27th February
The toilet back wall takes shape
The roof and door frame go on the new toilet built on the east side of the new traditional thatched house
Readers will be intrigued by future plumbing and sewage arrangements to be installed later!

Bobby's Visit

88 year old Bertha (Bobby) Glass
really enjoyed herself on her visit to the TDC house on 3rd March. She sat in the
chair and enjoyed the view looking out over the mission gardens and
volcano and out to sea.

Photos and Report
from Tina Glass
Bertha with Tristan Glass & Ryan Swain
Bertha in the new thatched cottage