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

Opening Ceremony on Wed. 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 Repetto'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.