All posts by Kate Gunner

A Quacking New Duck House

Bakers of Danbury's in-house joinery workshop recently built and donated a new duck house to the village. Bakers of Danbury takes pride in supporting both our local community and the communities in which we work - sometimes through sponsorship or even offering a helping hand. We thought our ducks needed a new home!

On Friday 1st February representatives of Danbury Parish Council, Bakers of Danbury Ltd, children from the ECO Council for St John’s C of E Primary School, children from Heathcote Preparatory School and some local residents all braved the cold, wet and snowy weather and met on Eves Corner Friday morning to watch the ducks officially take up residence in their new home.

Stuart Berlyn, Chairman of Danbury Parish Council said;

“Once again Bakers of Danbury has supported the village and Parish Council with this fantastic donation to celebrate their 140th Anniversary. So much thought and hard work has gone into this duck house. It's the poshest duck house we've ever seen, but only the best for our ducks!”

The duck house design has taken inspiration from the The Parish Church of St John the Baptist. St John’s stands high on Danbury ridge, as a landmark whose spire is visible from the A12 and from many local vantage-points.

Peter Smyth, Managing Director of Bakers of Danbury Ltd said;

“The guys in our church department, who overlook Eves Corner, felt sorry for the ducks in their wonky house with holes in it.

So, we decided to ask our in-house joinery workshop to build a new duck house. We asked our Bench Joiner Robin Palmer to build the duck house, because he has taken his lunch by the pond almost every day, since he joined Bakers over 14 years ago!”

The church duck house design seems very fitting for Bakers, as they are well known for their conservation work to churches, ancient monuments and cathedrals, as well as work to listed buildings and private homes. Bakers have recently carried out conservation works to both St Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey amongst other ecclesiastical buildings.

Bakers’ in-house joinery workshop handcraft bespoke joinery and furniture. The joinery shop meets all the joinery requirements of the company, as well as taking orders directly from clients for projects such as bespoke kitchens, dressing rooms, furniture for business reception areas and bespoke ecclesiastical items. The duck house is something a little out of the ordinary them!

Bakers took advice from The Essex Wildlife Trust who suggested the duck house should be installed in time for early spring as the Ducks will be looking for nesting sites then. The duck house has two nesting boxes – a door for each box can be found at either end of the house. Each nesting box has a floating ramp leading from the house into the water.

Bakers joinery shop made the duck house from weatherproof ply with a felt roof and a spire covered in Cedar shingles. Over time the Cedar will go a dark grey, more like the colour of St John’s Spire. The tower has been thoughtfully designed to capture the rain water on a felt roof within the tower and redirect it back out from under where the tower meets the church.

The duck house sits on metal stilts with the wooden legs sitting above the water level to prevent the wood from sitting in the water and rotting. It took a whole day to paint the duck house which includes details such as a mallard duck, flowers and detailed stone quoins, very much like those on St Johns. Peter Smyth said;

“We've been trying to give a bit back to the village, as we've just celebrated our 140th anniversary last year. Bakers have always been on Eves Corner, so we bought the Christmas tree to go on Eves Corner last year, as a thank you to the village too.”

£1 million refurbishment

Bakers of Danbury recently completed a £1 million refurbishment project to improve and extend nine alms houses, some of which date back to the 18th century.

The 18 month project saw nine properties within the Old Square, Colchester, Essex undergo the following improvement works:

  • Demolition of 3 single storey extensions
  • Construction of 3 two storey extensions
  • Reconstruction of 2 existing flat roofs with external patio/balcony
  • Complete new kitchen installation
  • Complete new wet room installation
  • Landscaping to enhance the area - communal gardens and planting areas
  • Substantial internal alterations to improve circulation and space
  • Demolition of old sheds and garden walls
  • Removal of raised walkway and stairs
  • New energy efficiency measures installed
  • Soundproofing
  • efficient and controllable heating
  • enhanced fire precautions
  • Scooter charging facilities

Former Colchester Mayor, Alderman and farmer, Arthur Winsley, who died in 1726, left much of his property to a new charity to house 12 men who had: “lived well and fallen into decay”. The 81 Winsley’s Alms houses are now home to more than 100 people.

In line with the Founder’s wishes expressed in his will, every year the Trustees hold a service in Winsley’s chapel and have their annual meeting and dinner on the same day. Acting Trustee Irene Kettle said:

Our Founder’s legacy is important to us and we are very proud of the history of Winsley’s, but it is essential to remember this is a thriving, friendly community and a place which must grow and improve. In this way, we can ensure the legacy of Arthur Winsley and Others, lives on.

At a ceremony held in January 2019 at Winsley’s Square, off Old Heath Road the renovated properties were blessed by the Rt Rev Roger Morris, Bishop of Colchester and officially opened by The Mayor & mayoress of Colchester. Residents were invited to take a look around.

The architect on this project was Nicholas Jacob Architects, and Trustee Andrew Waters led the project.

The King of Prussia Gold Medal

Bakers of Danbury are delighted to announce that The King of Prussia Gold Medal was recently awarded for the structural and restoration works carried out to St Peter and St Paul's Church. The Church Architecture Awards 2018 are run by the National Churches Trust and the Ecclesiastical Architects and Surveyors Association (EASA).

Works carried out to the 12th century Grade I Listed church included a 20m long foundation piling, roof repairs and masonry repairs throughout the church.

Structural movement to the south aisle of the 12th century, Grade I Listed church had caused substantial damage to walls and roof finishes. As a result, a major restoration of the aisle was necessary, with associated masonry works to the tower and re-roofing of the nave and chancel.

Bakers of Danbury carried out underpinning of the South Aisle to St Peter and St Paul's Church, during which 20m long foundation piles were carefully positioned, so not to disturb any archaeology below ground.

A new tiled roof was installed to the aisle following timber repairs, along with structural repairs carried out to the south aisle. The nave, chancel and aisle roofs were retiled with a specially selected blend of new handmade tiles to replace the old.

Bakers also carried out consolidation and pointing of the tower, and fitted new Kent rag stone (supplied by Baker’s sister company Collins and Curtis Masonry Ltd) which replaced damaged stone on the windows, parapet and turret. We also removed a damaging cement covering to the parapet top, and reinstated the original and unique brick copings.

 

St Peter & St Paul’s, Stoke

Summary = Structural and restoration works carried out to St Peter and St Paul's Church, a 12th century Grade I Listed church including 20m long foundation piling, roof and masonry repairs.

Value = approximately £450,000

Location = St Peter and St Paul's Church, Upper Stoke, Kent

Architect = Rena Pitsilli-Graham

Challenge = Structural movement to the south aisle of the 12th century, Grade I Listed church had caused substantial damage to walls and roof finishes. As a result, a major restoration of the aisle was necessary, with associated masonry works to the tower and re-roofing of the nave and chancel.

Solution = Bakers of Danbury carried out underpinning of the South Aisle to St Peter and St Paul's Church, during which 20m long foundation piles were carefully positioned, so not to disturb any archaeology below ground.

A new tiled roof was installed to the aisle following timber repairs, along with structural repairs carried out to the south aisle. The nave, chancel and aisle roofs were retiled with a specially selected blend of new handmade tiles to replace the old.

Masonry repairs were carried out throughout St Peter and St Paul's Church.

To the historically important tower, we carried out consolidation and pointing of the masonry and fitted new Kent rag stone (supplied by Baker’s sister company Collins and Curtis Masonry Ltd) which replaced damaged stone on the windows, parapet and turret. We also removed a damaging cement covering to the parapet top, and reinstated the original and unique brick copings.

A new gleaming weather vane was added to celebrate the reversing of many years of decline and decay.

Structural and repair works to St Peter and St Paul's Church were awarded The King of Prussia Gold Medal (Highly Commended) in the Church Architecture Awards 2018 (run by the National Churches Trust and the Ecclesiastical Architects and Surveyors Association (EASA).

 

Westminster School Extension

Summary = Bakers of Danbury Ltd are currently building an extension to Westminster School. The extension includes meeting and teaching space as well as offices for school staff. Bakers have completed phases one and two which involved the demolition of the existing building and an archaeological dig. We are currently working on phase three.

Location = Westminster, London

Architect = Ptolemy Dean Architects Ltd

Challenge = Access is restricted due to working on a live school. Westminster School is the only ancient school in London which still occupies its original site. The site of the new extension is very closely surrounded by Grade I Listed buildings, some dating back to the 11th century.

Solution = Phase one involved the careful demolition of the modern concrete music centre in Little Dean’s Yard. The demolition was carried out carefully to protect the Grade I Listed buildings surrounding the site.

Careful demolition and breaking out was also carried out on the reinforced concrete foundation to the music center to protect the archaeology below ground.

During phase two Bakers oversaw archaeological excavations, which were carried out in conjunction with Pre-Construct Archaeology. The archaeological excavations uncovered part of the original kitchen to the Monks Abbey dating back to the 11th century. A section of the new build floor will be cantilevered glass - creating a platform from which to view the archaeology below ground level, which was exposed during archaeological excavations.

Working under the instruction of Ptolemy Dean Architects Ltd, Bakers of Danbury are currently working on phase three of the project. During this phase Bakers will be using traditional building techniques and materials to create a new build extension. The new extension will be constructed with handmade bricks, reclaimed tiles, lead roofing and handmade timber and lead windows. The extension will house a new teaching/ meeting area and offices for the school staff.

Bakers will also carry out internal renovation works and external restoration works to a number of surrounding school buildings.

This project will also include a full M&E package which includes the new build extension and existing school buildings, as well as landscaping to Little Deans Yard, which lays the front of Westminster School.

 

Newsletter (Winter 2018)

Our Winter 2018 newsletter looks at projects recently undertaken by Bakers of Danbury and it's sister companies Collins and Curtis Masonry and Pickford Builders.

Bakers of Danbury Ltd have had another very busy and exciting year across all of our companies. Our projects have won a number of prestigious awards again this year, including the following:

  • Civic Trust 2018 AABC Conservation Award (restoration of a redundant church Quay Place, Ipswich)

  • Civic Trust 2018 Commendation (conservation and alteration works to the Charterhouse, London)

  • National Churches Trust - The King of Prussia Gold Medal 2018 Highly Commended (major restoration project to St Peter and St Paul, Upper Stoke in Kent)
  • We have recently completed a new build consisting of four apartments on Mill Lane opposite Maldon Promenade, Maldon, Essex. The apartments are on the market now.

    We were pleased to have been awarded extra masonry conservation works at the College of Arms in London. The College of Arms is a royal corporation acting on behalf of the Crown in all matters of heraldry, the granting of new coats of arms, genealogical and heraldic research, recording of pedigrees and matters relating to the flying of flags on land.

    We have also been awarded additional conservation works at Coalhouse Fort, Tilbury, Essex. Coalhouse Fort was built between 1861 and 1874 to protect England from invasion by the French and used again during WW1 and WW2.

    We look forward to starting a number of new projects in the New Year including an extensive refurbishment of a fire damaged barn in Essex, the rebuild of St John's Abbey precinct wall in Colchester, stone repairs to Rivenhall Place, reroofing and masonry repairs to St John the Evangelist Church in Bury St Edmunds, an installation of a new kitchen, w/c and mains services to St Catherine's Church in Littlington and timber repairs to a both a house in Layer Marney and a barn in Blackmore.

    You can also keep up-to-date with Baker’s latest news by visiting our latest news page and our Facebook page!

    Click here to open our latest Newsletter

    Bakers of Danbury Winter 2018 Newsletter

    A Christmas Tree for the Village

    A Christmas Tree for the Village

    Bakers of Danbury Ltd donated a 20 foot Christmas Tree to the village this year to show the company's appreciation to the village for it's support over the 140 years. 2018 marked Bakers of Danbury's 140th anniversary. Bakers have always been based on Eves Corner in Danbury, Essex. Many local men and women have either worked for Bakers or have relatives who worked for Bakers many years ago!

    In 1878 William Baker opened business as a “Millwright, wheelwright, carpenter etc” with only £50 and a horse and loaned cart. William Baker worked on many mills local to Danbury. Although with the demise of mills there were few mill jobs after the 1890’s, at which point William Baker concentrated on building and a small amount of church works. Today the company is very similar with recent projects ranging from the conservation and restoration project in Westminster Abbey completed earlier this year, to the new build of four apartments in Maldon.

     

    Hand Carved Village Signs

    Bakers of Danbury have hand carved and restored village signs going back many years now. The earliest village sign on our records dates back to 1960, for the of village Pebmarsh in Essex.

    Bakers of Danbury’s Joinery Workshop still regularly undertake village sign projects - from refurbishment and redecoration; to a full design service for brand new village signs.

    Village Sign Refurbishment:

    Village sign refurbishment works involve collecting the sign from its village location, cleaning, sanding and repairing any defects using hardwood timber. We will hand carve where necessary, then carry out a full re-decoration which will include hand painting the village sign. When the refurbished village sign is returned to its former glory, we will reinstate the refurbished village sign back at its village location.

    Design of New Village Signs:

    For brand new village signs, our full design service includes sitting down with the client to bring their thought’s to life. We will produce detailed drawings of the village sign. The design will be to scale (life sized) to give the client a real feel of what the final sign will look like.

    Once the detailed drawings are approved, Bakers of Danbury’s specialist joinery department will hand carve the new design out of hardwood. Hand carving a village sign can take some time depending on its detail.

    Once we have a completed hand carved village sign, it will be hand painted using special exterior paint to give the highest quality finish. Finally, the installation will take place at the village sign location.

    Recent projects:

    We have recently refurbished, repaired and decorated a National Beacon for the village of Purfleet. The beacon itself was refurbished and it's post repaired. We carried out a full decoration of the sign and installed a new concrete base.

    We have recently refurbished signs for Halstead, Woodford Green, Roxwell and East Bergholt.

     

    Shop Display Units

    Summary: Shop display units handcrafted from MDF and Oak with a sprayed paint finish and stained oak edge

    Location: Chelsea Harbour Design Centre, London

    Architect: Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler Interior Design, Decoration and Antiques

    Challenge: Short lead time

    Solution: Bakers of Danburys’ Specialist Joinery Workshop handcrafted eight display units for Colefax & Fowler’s new Interior Design Shop which is located in Chelsea Harbour, London.

    The display units were constructed from 30mm MDF with a lino top covering and an oak edging applied to the unit tops.

    The units were finished in a factory spray with a stained oak edging. The project had a short lead time. To enable the project to meet its completion deadline the whole team had to work very closely and our joiners worked some overtime.

    Colefax & Fowler are a repeat customer of Bakers of Danbury, we look forward to working with Colefax & Fowler again in the future.

     

    English Oak Storage & WC

    Summary: English Oak bespoke DDA and Dementia friendly toilet, storage cupboards, children's library and pew storage area

    Location: St Mary’s Church, Saffron Walden

    Architect: Kay Pilsbury Thomas Architects

    Challenge: Attention to detail was important in this project as it was all made of English Oak and stained on site. There was no room for error!

    Solution: One of the largest parish churches in Essex, the building dates mainly from the fifteenth century.

    Bakers of Danbury’s Specialist Joinery department manufactured and installed a bespoke DDA and Dementia friendly toilet, storage cupboards, children's library and pew storage area. All were crafted by our Joiners from English Oak in our joinery shop, it was then taken apart and wrapped flat pack for transit, before being fitted by our onsite carpenters.

    Great attention was paid to the highest spec soundproofing, with all panels either insulated with a solid block board or infilled with bricks to eliminate noise. The WC door alone weighed over 100kg.

    Every post included a hand carved crocus detail to the top. The complete project was very detailed and complex with hand carved designs, modern sliding doors and bespoke detailed cornice which ran around the top of the complete project.

    To watch a video of our skilled Joiner hand carving a crocus detail Click here.