All posts by Kate Gunner

A fond farewell

We regret to announce the very sad passing of our former Managing Director and dear friend David Wood on 5th June 2019. David joined Baker and Sons in 1956 with which he was involved, in one way or another, for the next 60 years or so.

After Joining Baker and Sons, David soon rose through the ranks from Cost Clerk, quickly establishing himself as indispensable to the Managing Director. In 1965 David became a Director and later Managing Director in 1968.

In 1971, with the help of John Knott and Bernard Speakman, David took the company over; they were to remain lifelong friends. The company became Bakers of Danbury Ltd for which David remained Managing Director until the early 1990’s. Under their control the company’s reputation soared and it went from strength to strength, with work on churches and ancient buildings becoming a particular speciality.

David was personally involved in major refurbishment works at Waltham Abbey, St Albans Cathedral and Writtle Church as well as projects on countless other parish churches. He stopped working full-time in 1994, but continued working part-time until 2005. David also served on the Fabric Committee for Chelmsford Cathedral from 1991 to 2015.

In 2013 David wrote within the book “A History of Bakers of Danbury Ltd”;

I am proud to have been part of the team responsible for carrying the firm forward for such a long period. I feel satisfied that we have been able to maintain the standards set by William Baker so long ago, in a world that is so vastly different to that in which he worked. I am also confident that the now well-established new managers hold similar aspirations to all those of us who have gone before, and will continue to give valuable service to the local and also the more widespread community which the firm now serves.”

David’s son Simon was a Contracts Director working within Baker’s Church department over 20 years, and at present David’s younger Son Antony continues the family dedication to Bakers of Danbury, also as a Contracts Director. Ant has been with Bakers over 25 years now.

David’s visits into the office to offer support and advice or just for a chat in recent years were always welcomed and he will be sadly missed by all. Without his dedication and commitment to the company for near on 60 years we may well not be where we are today.

 

Almshouses Refurbishment

  • Summary: Refurbishment and extensions to nine almshouses, some of which date back to the 18th century
  • Value: Approximately £600,000
  • Location: Colchester, Essex
  • Architect: Nicholas Jacobs Architects Ltd
  • Challenge: The site was confined within a busy residential area. It had very little space for storage and very limited access.
  • Solution: Bakers of Danbury carried out the refurbishment and extensions to nine almshouses within the Old Square, Colchester, Essex over an 18 month period.
  • 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.

    Refurbishment and extension works to the nine properties included:

    • 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

    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.

    Refurbishment of Spains Hall

  • Summary: Refurbishment of Spains Hall, a Grade I Listed Country home in Finchinfield, Essex including some alterations to the Great Hall to accommodate weddings and functions
  • Value: Approximately £1,500,000
  • Location: Finchingfield, Essex
  • Architect: Kay Pilsbury Thomas Architects Ltd
  • Challenge: The house was in need of substantial restoration and repair, as very little work had been carried out on the house for decades.
  • Solution: Spains Hall is a beautiful Grade I Listed country house circa 1570, incorporating a timber framed medieval house C1400-50.
  • The sympathetic restoration, repair and alterations began in August 2008, during which many hidden original features were enhanced and brought back to their former glory. These features include the jib door, the Tudor well in the floor and the restored flamboyant Victorian wallpapers.

    The house was altered to add new facilities allowing the house to open to the public for the first time for business and hospitality use, including weddings and functions. The rooms which were altered for business and hospitality use included:

    • The porch
    • The Great Hall
    • The large drawing room
    • The dining room
    • The vestibule
    • The south staircase lobby
    • The tapestry bedroom and en-suite
    • A new w/c for disabled and elderly people inc. baby-changing facilities
    • New separate w/c facilities

    The refurbishment of Spains Hall included major restoration works in the Great Hall and remaining rooms. Within the Great Hall repairs were made to the primary beams and the supporting brick walls were strengthened. Where possible, carvings were cut from the decayed beam and fitted onto the new sections.

    Where carvings could not be salvaged, Bakers' in-house joinery workshop hand carved replica carvings. New oak floor joists were introduced, plank flooring installed and substantial wall panel repairs were made within the Great Hall, the large drawing room and the vestibule.

    A new kitchen was installed with large French doors and a fanlight. New bathrooms and en-suites were also installed.

    New mechanical systems, heating, plumbing, electrical power and lighting were sensitively installed as well as Audio Visual systems with speakers hidden within the wall panelling.

    The tapestry bedroom and en-suite were fully restored, to be used by the Bride and Groom for wedding functions.

    A large roof light was installed within the roof of the entrance hall to gain additional light. The small staircase was replaced with a large Georgian style sweeping timber staircase, to create a dramatic and welcoming entrance hall.

    The rear entrance was also remodelled to include a new large panelled entrance door and long side sash windows to let more natural light in.

    The external walls were re-pointed where the pointing had failed. Windows were restored which included stained glass repairs. Roof tile repairs and lead repairs were also carried out. The garden walls were also repaired, and a new opening formed with an arch leading into the formal gardens.

    The refurbishment of Spains Hall was awarded the RICS 2012 National Grand Finalist Award for Building Conservation

    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.