Tag Archives: listed roof repairs

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 ONE LOST PARADISE THE NAME
  • OF OUR FIRST ANCESTOR IS STAINED;
  • BROWN SHALL ENJOY UNSULLIED FAME
  • FOR SO MANY A PARADISE REGAINED.
  • With the inscription:

  • 1716 1783 LANCELOT CAPABILITY BROWN.
  • HE SOUGHT AN IMAGE OF HEAVEN.
  •  

    Bakers celebrate 140 years

    Monday 11th June marked Bakers of Danbury 140th anniversary.

    William Baker opened the business on 11th June 1878 as a “Millwright, wheelwright, carpenter etc”, with £50 and the loan of a horse and cart .

    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. The first house William Baker built was at a cost of £170 in 1880. The many houses that followed were built with bricks supplied from William Baker’s brick yard.

    William Baker became very successful, carrying out general building works. In 1904 William Baker retired leaving the business to his sons - the business became “Baker and Sons”. Charlie Baker’s main interest was in building and Frank Baker’s main interest was in church restoration work. The restoration of the spire to the local church Danbury St John the Baptist in 1922 was their first major undertaking in church restoration work.

    Being the only builder of size in the area, Baker and Sons were approached by clients wishing to acquire land and have a house built in the area. For these houses, Baker and Sons generally made use of red facing bricks manufactured in their own brickyards, and therefore much of the architecture you see today as you walk around Danbury and surrounding villages can be identified as the work of Charlie and Frank Baker.

    The business was handed down to family members over the years and became “Bakers of Danbury Ltd” in 1971.

    BAKERS OF DANBURY TODAY

    Today, Bakers are still known for their expertise on historic and listed properties, and interestingly, many of the methods used in conservation and restoration work remain very similar to those used over a century ago.

    Bakers of Danbury has 5 Directors one of which is Antony Wood, the son of David Wood (Director from 1965 until 2005).

    Bakers are currently working on Westminster Abbey, and in the past 12 months have carried out restoration and alteration works to The Charterhouse in London, Westminster Cathedral and St Pauls Cathedral amongst many other projects. Recent projects have won the following prestigious awards; RICS National Award 2017 for Building Conservation, RIBA National award 2017, Civic Trust 2018 AABC Conservation award and a Diocese of Chelmsford, Design Award 2017.

    Other interesting projects include the soft capping conservation work to the Norman high flint walls of Walden Castle in Saffron Walden, Essex (2017), various restoration works to the Norman Colchester Castle, Essex (since 1985) and Colchester’s Roman Walls, repairs to a number of local windmills, and various restoration works and preventative maintenance carried out to St Albans Cathedral (since 1984) and Chelmsford Cathedral (since the 1960’s).

    Bakers benefit from a team of experienced stonemasons, carpenters, joiners and other tradesmen. The longest serving having worked up through our apprenticeship scheme has been with Bakers over 35 years!

    Westminster Abbey

    Under the instruction from Ptolemy Dean Architects Ltd (Westminster Abbeys Surveyor of the fabric) Bakers are currently carrying out roof works to the medieval South Triforium and the Great Cloister within Westminster Abbey.

    The roof works will be completed in time for the opening of a new museum and gallery, located in the Abbey's medieval Triforium, next year. After being hidden from public over 700 years, the Triforium will become “The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Galleries”.

    70ft above the Abbey floor, the new gallery will provide visitors with magnificent views down over the Abbey buildings and the Palace of Westminster. Roof works carried out by Bakers involve stripping the existing roof, recasting original lead and re-leading part of the South Triforium and part of the Main Cloister.

    A full overhaul of the rainwater goods is also being carried out, with a combination of new and refurbished lead downpipes, hoppers and chutes being fitted. A new hopper, corbel stone and 22 metre downpipe has been introduced, formed to mirror the Christopher Wren era hoppers that are already in use.

    Bakers are increasing the gradient of the Triforium roof by increasing the fall of the lead bays (compliant with lead sheet association guidelines). Other structural repairs include reinforcing 300-year-old oak primary rafters using a flitch plate repair and other associated structural repairs to the oak roof.

    Other works include careful rehoming of monuments and statues from other parts of the Abbey onto the Triforium floor.

    With the improvements to the rainwater goods, Bakers will undertake the renewal of the below ground drainage within the Great Cloister, which will also include the exciting addition of a fountain to be positioned in the centre of the Cloister, formed on York Stone paving with a lead cistern fountain. These works will continue into Spring 2018.

    Jim Vincent, Clerk of the Works at Westminster Abbey said:

    Bakers of Danbury have successfully managed access issues and restrictions whilst carrying out the works at the Abbey. The main access route into site is through the Great Cloister, which is a busy area of the Abbey accessible to the public from 9.30am every day.

    We have found Bakers of Danbury to be considerate of the public and employees of the Abbey and have undertaken the works to the Abbey with the utmost care and attention at all times and look forward to continuing our working relationship with them in the future. The high standard of work is commensurate with the status of the building and is what is expected of contractors working at Westminster Abbey."

    St Christopher’s Church

    Summary = Restoration of church roof, including strengthening and alterations to meet modern regulations.

    Value = £162,000

    Location = Willingale, Essex

    Architect = Simon Marks - Purcell

    Challenge = Fitting a new compliant roof structure into the old C14th roof timbers without disturbing the original structure and pegged joints, or affecting the existing plaster and lath ceiling. Every new rafter had to be fitted bespoke, shaving millimetres off at various points along their lengths to allow it to fit in the roof space available.

    Solution = Works included stripping tiles and battens and re-roofing using bat-friendly felt, batten and tiling with hand-made Tudor tiles. Carrying out timber repairs and strengthening to the roof structure. Installing secondary roof structure in softwood to meet modern regulations regarding rafter spacing. Adjusting and adapting rainwater goods to suit new roof.