Category Archives: Latest News

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.


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.


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.


    Essex Youth Build site visit

    Essex Youth Build visited All Saints Church in Terling on Wednesday 25th July to learn about the conservation works underway.

    The small group of 16-19 year olds who are currently studying City & Guilds course with Essex Youth Build attended All Saints Church for a site tour and Q&A whilst Bakers of Danbury Ltd were carrying out conservation and restoration works to the church.

    Conservation and Restoration works to All Saints Church include the following:

  • Stripping cedar shingles for full height of spire
  • Carrying out timber repairs as found and putting back new oak shakes
  • Remove weathervane, repair, decorate and re-guild
  • Repair stone clock and sundial and prepare redecorate and guild as existing
  • Stone replacement to quoins
  • Replace existing lightning conductor tape with new.
  • Heather Cutler who is part of the All Saints’ Terling Spire Project Team said

    “Thank you both for your time and terrific input to making yesterday’s visit, to the work currently being undertaken at All Saints’ Terling, both interesting and safe. I do hope the lads got some ideas for future careers in heritage construction and I wish them well for their futures."

    If you would like to arrange for a small group of students to visit a working site to learn more about conservation and buildings works please do not hesitate to contact Kate Gunner by emailing


    Newsletter (Summer 2018)

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

    As many of you will know, or will have seen from our website, local press or national trade magazines; Bakers of Danbury celebrates it's 140th anniversary this year, so it seems somewhat appropriate to remind ourselves about the history of the business in our Summer Newsletter.

    William Baker founded the business at the current Eves Corner site on 11th June 1878, with £50.00 and the loan of a horse and cart as a millwright, wheelwright and carpenter, working mainly on the local mills. As the mills fell into decline however, the business adapted to work more on local houses and churches whilst training and employing skilled local craftsmen.

    William became very successful as the company worked on most of the local churches and also built many of the historic houses around Danbury, usually using red bricks from his own local brickyard. In time, William’s sons Frank and Charles took over the business and continued with works to churches and housing, with the business being further handed down in the family and then into private ownership, becoming Bakers of Danbury in 1971.

    The current company continues to train and employ local people and continues to benefit from a highly skilled, loyal and motivated workforce enabling us to have the pleasure of working on many prestigious buildings producing the quality work for which it is very well known.

    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 win Civic Trust awards

    Two projects for which Bakers of Danbury were the principal contractor have won Civic Trust Awards - The Civic Trust 2018 AABC Conservation award and a Civic Trust 2018 Commendation.

    The Civic Trust 2018 AABC Conservation award was awarded for the restoration of Quay Place in Ipswich. The Civic Trust Awards described the restoration project as being

    "A project which demonstrates the highest standards of historic building conservation, and makes an outstanding contribution to the quality and appearance of the built environment"

    Formerly the church of St Mary-at-the-Quay but now called Quay Place, was until its recent regeneration a redundant medieval Church. The Grade II listed church which was believed to have been built around 1450 and 1550, is located next to Ipswich’s quayside. It suffered from war damage, damp, a decayed roof and leaning walls until the 17 month restoration programme gave Quay Place a new future as a centre for both heritage and well being activities, café and an event space alongside therapy provision.

    The specialist restoration works include the structural stabilisation and incorporation of a large contemporary mezzanine floor for office space. A new contemporary design extension provides further offices and consulting rooms. Bakers of Danbury's sister company Collins and Curtis Masonry supplied all new stone for the restoration and new build. Measurements were taken onsite to produce templates, which were then used to manufacture the replacement features to arches, jambs, tracery, cills and copings in their workshops. Traditional methods of masonry were used to manufacture the stone details.

    The Civic Trust 2018 Commendation was awarded for conservation and alteration works to the Charterhouse in London.

    The large conservation and alteration project “Revealing the Charterhouse” included remodelling of the Grade I listed building to house a new museum, learning centre, cafe, reception area and public toilets, as well as conservation and restoration works to the external fabric of Charterhouse Chapel and the re-design of Charterhouse Square.

    Click here to find out more about the regeneration of Quay Place in Ipswich and Revealing the Charterhouse


    Alan Titchmarsh Dedicates Fountain

    After recently completing roof works and the renewal of below-ground drainage within the Great Cloister to Westminster Abbey; Chris Norman, Contracts Manager for Bakers of Danbury Ltd, was invited to attend a Dedication Ceremony during which the new Cloister Garth Fountain was dedicated to the famous 18th-century landscape gardener Lancelot “Capability” Brown.

    Positioned in the centre of the Great Cloister to Westminster Abbey, the lead cistern fountain sits over an old monastic well in the garth. It is formed on York Stone paving provided by Bakers of Danbury’s sister company Collins and Curtis Masonry Ltd. The fountain was designed by Ptolemy Dean, the Abbey’s Surveyor of the Fabric with the assistance of TV gardener Alan Titchmarsh, who also attended the dedication and gave reflection.

    The Closter Garth Fountain marks the tercentenary of the birth of landscape gardener Lancelot “Capability” Brown. Known as “England’s greatest gardener”, “Capability” Brown designed over 170 parks and gardens – for many of which water plays a big part in their design. He was nicknamed “Capability” because he used to tell his clients their property had “capability” for improvement. Some of his work can still be admired in Kew Gardens in South West London, Chatsworth House in Derby, Warwick Castle and Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire. Later he was Master Gardener at Hampton Court Palace and Richmond.

    The Ceremony took place following the Evensong taken by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall. A week later Alan Titchmarsh attended Westminster Abbey again, this time to meet the Queen during the formal opening of “The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Galleries”, a new museum and gallery located in the Abbey's medieval Triforium.

    70ft above the Abbey floor, the new gallery provides visitors with magnificent views down over the Great Cloister, Abbey buildings and the Palace of Westminster. From the gallery, Alan Titchmarsh showed Queen Elizabeth the new Cloister Garth Fountain.

    The roof works carried out by Bakers which involved stripping the existing roof, recasting original lead and re-leading part of the South Triforium and part of the Main Cloister can also be viewed from The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Galleries.

    Around the sides of the cistern on several panels is a quote from Horace Walpole:

  • With the inscription: