All posts by Kate Gunner

Church Fire Damage Repair

Summary = St John the Baptist Church in Royston was devastated by a fire. Bakers of Danbury have carried out phase one of works which included securing the structure and stripping the fire damaged materials which were beyond repair. Bakers are currently working on the second phase.

Location = Royston, Hertfordshire

Challenge = National lock down due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Solution = Bakers of Danbury were initially tasked with phase one of works which began May 2019 and involved six weeks stripping all fire damaged material and making the structure safe after it had suffered a devastating fire in the early hours of the 9th December 2018.

The fire which started in the tower devastated the tower and bell ringing chamber and caused significant damage to the medieval nave roof, in particular the west end of the roof. The church also suffered from subsequent water damage as a result of extinguishing the fire, which cause the floor to collapse.

After completing phase one of works, Bakers were awarded phase two of works which began at the fire damaged church in February 2020. Later the following month, due to the nature of the works and the confined working space, the project had to be put on hold during the national lock down due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In May the works resumed with the introduction of social distancing measures, sensible planning and safe working procedures which were implemented by Bakers' SHEQ Manager, Contract Manager and Site Manager for the project.

During phase two, a new tower roof with steel supporting girders was installed and covered in lead. New window reveals (in Clunch) were installed within the tower and repairs were made to the tower internal walls, particularly at the belfry level where it had been seriously damaged by the instense heat. Within the tower a quatrefoil window was replaced with one handcrafted by Bakers' sister company Collins and Curtis Masonry.

Lower down the tower, Bakers repaired the walls by stitching them with large pieces of Clunch. Re-pointing the stonework further restored and strengthened the tower. New copings in Barnack stone were installed to the tower parapet and new ashlar indents were also incorporated.

To the naive roof, which suffered significant damage, Bakers repaired the original inner wall plate and introduced a new outer wall plate to support the rafters. New rafters were installed where the fired had damaged the original ones beyond repair. Those original principal rafters which were salvaged have been repaired and supported by installing large stainless steel brackets (individual brackets weigh 175 kg each).

All timbers have been ice blasted to remove fire and smoke damage, taking particular attention to preserve historical graffiti which although had been damaged by the fire, was still legible. A new lead roof (code 7) will be installed and all rainwater goods will be replaced with cast aluminum.

Ice blast cleaning has been carried out in isolated areas of the church which suffered fire and smoke damage, for example around the windows and doors. Various cleaning trials have been carried out throughout the interior and exterior of the church. Phase 2 of works will be completed to deadline, January 2021. Bakers are working in close collaboration with the Project Quantity Surveyor to monitor overall contract values, variation costs and the final contract sum.

To keep up to date on similar conservation projects carried out by Bakers of Danbury visit our Latest News page or the Bakers of Danbury Facebook page.

Restoration of Oldest Church Remains

Summary = Restoration of apsidal remains, said to be the oldest church in Britain.

Location = Colchester, Essex

Challenge = The weather was causing erosion to the original core structure of the walls.

Solution = Restoration works have recently been carried out by Bakers of Danbury Ltd, to the remaining stonework belonging to what is said to be the oldest Christian Church in England.

The remains of the Church next to Colchester Police Station in Essex, are believed to date back to AD 320, toward the end of the Roman occupation in Britain. Originally excavated more than 40 years ago, the apsidal remains consist of septarian stone together with reclaimed roman tiles and pamments.

Commissioned by Colchester Borough Council and supported by Colchester Archaeological Trust, Bakers of Danbury’s stonemasons repointed the stone wall foundations with Lime Mortar and restored all visible stonework, using traditional methods which have been handed down generations of the 140-year-old company. Despite the starkness of the pointing against the older, dirtier masonry, Bakers' stonemasons matched the original core mortar as closely as possible.

The recent restoration works will protect the remains for many years to come, by preventing further erosion which can occur when the weather gets into the original core structure of the walls. All oak marker posts which mark the positions of the aisles and partition have been replaced with new.

Philip Wise, Colchester & Ipswich Museums said;

“These works will help to safeguard the future of these important Roman remains for the people of Colchester.”

Although Colchester Archaeological Trust agree the ruins are a “probable Romano-British Church”, the building was associated with two cemeteries one pagan and one Christian, which help support alternative theories around the buildings original use - perhaps later being converted to a Romano-British Church. These theories suggest it may have been originally been a pagan temple, a Roman mithraeum (Roman temple) or a hall for funerary feasts predating AD.320. The remains were awarded Scheduled Monument status by Historic England on 07 October 2020, ref 1470104. For more information visit historicengland.co.uk

To keep up to date on similar conservation projects carried out by Bakers of Danbury visit our Latest News page or the Bakers of Danbury Facebook page.

Newsletter (Summer 2020)

Our Summer 2020 newsletter looks at a selection of projects recently undertaken by Bakers of Danbury as well as our sister companies Collins and Curtis Masonry and Pickford Builders.

Projects within this newsletter for which Bakers of Danbury have been the Principal Contractor include recently completed project at Wyddial Hall which involved internal remodeling, extensive M&E, joinery and decorating works, the £1,800,000 refurbishment and roofing project at Westminster Deanery (which sits within the grounds of Westminster Abbey), extensive conservation works to St Andrew's Church in Cherry Hinton, the recently completed classroom extension to Benyon School in Thurrock, and new build extension to a home in Little Baddow.

In addition to those projects detailed in our Newsletter, some other interesting projects include a recent new build project for which Bakers built a number of large outbuildings for a private customer, constructed exclusively from green oak with a tiled roof. Bakers also carried out restoration works to the remains of what is said to be the oldest Christian Church in England and whose stone foundations were uncovered over 40 years ago in Colchester, Essex and are thought to date back to A.D. 320, towards the end of the Roman occupation of Britain.

To read about these or other projects we are working on, please visit our service pages and follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook.