HSI "SPIDER" STRAW MATTING MACHINE
This Thatch Maker was bought by Mr. RS French of Clement Reach Farm, early in the 2nd World War from the agricultural merchants Collis of Strood.
It was a new machine and became very useful as the French family had made thatch for their own use on corn stacks aswell as making larger quantities for other farmers in the Isle of Grain surrounding area.
Bill Gilbert was the man who operated it. He was a tall, thin man who did not drink or smoke and was not married. He was a member of the Plymouth Brethren and travelled from his cottage on the farm at Meopham to Shorne every weekend to preach at their meeting place.
He was a skilled craftsman who cut his wood locally, chestnut, ash ect for making sheep gates, wattle fencing and fence post, which were used on the farm or sold at market.He was a man of all trades.
As combine harvesters became popular in the 1940's, this machine became obsolete and stood around rusting in sheds and outside in all weathers untill being rescued from scrap by Mr. Harris of Manor farm, Southfleet in 2004. It was then aquired and restored by it's present owner Mr. I Bouchard in 2009.
Mr. Ian Bouchard at the 2013 Kent Show Heritage Section working area, showing Chris Ost how they used to use the manual threading pin to tye the straw before this machine took over.
The above historical information was provided by Mr. Micheal French, who is now over 80 year young, he is he son of the original purchaser of this very rare and fantastic machine.