All posts by Kate Gunner

Repairs to Medieval Wall

Summary = Repair to flint and stone masonry of a medieval wall at St John's Abbey Gate in Colchester

Value = Approximately £30,000

Location = Colchester, Essex

Challenge = Bakers was asked to repair a hole in the wall, but when Bakers started to remove loose masonry it became apparent that further repair work was necessary to stabilise the wall.

Solution = Investigations were carried out into the foundations, and it was found that they were suitable, so Bakers could continue with the conservation and repair works. Colchester Archaeological Trust were involved in the investigations.

Bakers carried out repairs to the collapsed section of the medieval masonry wall which formed part of the boundary to St John’s Abbey Gate in Colchester. The medieval masonry wall consists of various kent rag stone, flint, clunch and re-used masonry from the abbey with lime mortar.

All stone was salvaged, but where necessary Bakers had to source reclaimed stone to match the existing. Loose mortar was raked out, before being pointed with the new lime mortar which matched the existing. The new mortar used had been matched closely with the original mortar colour and was approved by the client.

Church Masonry Repairs

Summary = Emergency masonry repairs to church bell tower ruins

Value = Approximately £30,000

Location = East Bergholt, Suffolk

Challenge = The construction of the bell tower began in 1525, but the construction stopped in 1530, due to Cardinal Wolsey's fall from grace and the Reformation. Bakers carried out the necessary emergency repair works in 2017 as the bell tower masonry, which is exposed to the weather, had suffered damage.

Solution = Bakers carried out consolidation to the masonry walls which consist mainly of flint. Repairs were carried out to the cracks and sections of the mortar capping on top of the walls. Bakers surveyed the walls for loose stones, and re-bed any loose stones identified. Loose mortar was removed, and repointing was carried out to make the masonry walls safe and weatherproof.

Bakers also carried out brick repairs to the tower door and laid reclaimed pamnent tiles to the floor which leads to the exposed staircase within the tower walls.

Walden Castle Open to Public After Restoration

Going back as far as the late 70’s Bakers have been carrying out conservation works to the medieval castle ruins in Saffron Walden. The castle comprises of the substantial ruined walls of a Norman keep which are exposed to the weather and constantly under threat from further deterioration.

The restoration and conservation work carried out by Bakers over the past eight years has stabilised the flint-rubble walls, making it possible to safely open the Castle ruins to public.

The internal arch and pier were rebuilt to provide greater stability to the structure and the visible wall surfaces were stabilised by replacing cement mortar with lime mortar. Bakers also installed soft capping, comprising grass turf to the top of the castle walls to help prevent further erosion caused by the adverse weather conditions.

The soft capping installed by Bakers is thought to be the first of its kind in East Anglia, which consists of harvested natural turf, over a layer of loam soil, secured in place using wooden pegs.

Soft capping acts as a natural thermal blanket, reducing the effects of frost damage, rainwater caught in the soft capping will later evaporate back into the atmosphere, rather than washing down the walls and being absorbed into the masonry which is vulnerable to damage in freezing conditions.

Bakers also installed a new LED lighting system which highlights the castle’s prominent position on the historic town skyline at night.

Bakers Contracts Manager, Adrian Ward said;

“We are delighted, after many years of hard work by our dedicated and experienced craftsmen, to have finally completed the extensive conservation works to the ancient walls at Walden Castle, which can now be open to the public to explore and enjoy.”

To read an article about the castle and its restoration on the Historic England website click here.

Work Experience Placement

Alex Bishop, a year 12 student from a high school in Chelmsford has joined our Church Department this week to gain some work experience. Alex contacted Bakers to ask for a work experience placement, hoping to gain an insight into building and restoration. Alex is studying A Levels in Product Design, Business Studies and Media.

Alex is shadowing our Contract Managers Monday to Friday this week. During his first two days of work experience, Alex has already visited our restoration project at St John the Baptist Church in Royston which was devastated by a fire back in 2018, a re-ordering project at Christ Church in North Finchley, learnt about the lath and plaster repair works taking place at St Peter and St Paul’s church in Shorne, Kent and attended a prestart meeting at Bruce Castle in London.

Alex said; “I'm keen on gaining some practical work experience in building and restoration, because I am interested in it and do product design in school which is similar, and I enjoy it a lot. My work experience with Bakers this week has shown me just how many people and companies are involved in one building project. I also didn’t realise how much planning goes into what they have to do!”

Alex has been helping the church department by making a list of materials needed for a forthcoming project. This list will be used by the Contract Manager and Site staff as a quick guide reference when looking at what materials are needed. From the list Alex is creating, the Contract Manager can quickly identify what is needed on the project and then refer to the drawings to calculate the quantities before placing orders. To extract the information he needs to compile the list, Alex is reading through the schedule of works for that project.

Union Chapel, London

Summary = Conservation works to the east window of the Union Chapel in London.

Value = Approximately £40,000

Location = London

Challenge = Secondary glazing has caused damage to the stained glass window.

Solution = Bakers of Danbury Ltd recently carried out conservation works to the east window of the Union Chapel in London. The beautiful stained glass window had opaque secondary glazing on the outside of the window, which not only prevented the sun shining through the window to show its decorative image, but had also caused damage to the stained glass.

Bakers removed the secondary glazing together with the debris which had gathered at the base of the window. The glass was cleaned and damaged stone was replaced with new indented carved sections of bath stone to match the existing stone.

By removing the secondary glazing and cleaning the glass, the beautiful, bright window has once again become a focal point for the Chapel.

Watch the video at the top of this page to hear about conservation works carried out to the east window of the Union Chapel.

Union Chapel remains on the Historic England At Risk Register, so if you would like to make a donation visit www.unionchapel.org.uk

Wall Repair and Strengthening

Summary = Wall repair and strengthening carried out at Holy Trinity Church in Halstead

Location = Halstead, Essex

Challenge = The challenge was digging the pockets in between the trees as the trees prevented the digger from being able to get to where it needed to excavate.

Solution = Bakers of Danbury carried out hand digging where the trees prevented access for the digger. Bakers also adjusted some of the placements to achieve equally spaced ties.

To repair and strengthen the wall Bakers of Danbury dug ten 1.2m3 pockets along the length, to the back of the 36m churchyard boundary wall. The pockets were poured with concrete which was cast around 1.6m long stainless steel rods. The rods had been inserted through the wall. On the wall face they were tied and bolted to steel pattress plates.

To provide additional reinforcement, two lengths of Helifix reinforcing ties, set in resin were inserted along the face of the wall, extending the whole 36m length.

Cllr Mick Radley, Mayor and Chairman of Halstead Town Council said;

“I’m really pleased that the council has taken action to conduct major repair work to the Holy Trinity Church boundary wall and to recognise the excellent work that has been done. The wall has been leaning for a number of years and the recent repair work has now strengthened the wall along its length to hold it in place.

This work was conducted as part of the Town Council’s obligations to maintain closed churchyards and was funded from financial reserves specifically allocated to the work. Design work was commissioned to The Morton Partnership and the repair work to Bakers of Danbury Heritage Ltd. I would like to thank all of those involved with the repair for the excellent work they have done and with minimum disruption to the community.”

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.

Refurbishment of Barbican Centre

Summary = A comprehensive refurbishment to the Barbican Centre and backstage dressing rooms, within a tight seven week programme.

Client = The Mayor and Commonalty and Citizens of the City of London (as owners, founder and principle funder of the Barbican Centre)

Challenge = All works were carried out within a functioning backstage of the Concert Hall.

Solution = The Barbican Centre is the largest multi-arts centre in Europe, and forms part of the Grade 2 listed Barbican Estate, reflecting its special architectural and historic interest. After a successful tender through the City of London procurement portal, Bakers of Danbury carried out backstage and stage flooring refurbishment works to the Barbican Centre, within a tight seven week programme. Specifically, this included comprehensive refurbishment works to all twenty one dressing rooms serving the Concert Hall, with the Conductor’s suite and five other dressing rooms refurbished to a 5 star hotel standard. The project also included repair and restoration works to the existing solid Canadian Maple stage floor and riser sections of the Hall's stage area. As it was condensed programme requiring close coordination of a number of complex works packages, we assigned both a Site Manager (Lee Kerrison) and Assistant Site Manager (Ken Marshall) to the project full-time to proactively manage the delivery and ensure it remained on-track and within budget.

As all works were carried out within a functioning backstage of the Concert Hall, temporary walkways were created to enable the Barbican Centre employees to carry on about their business, without coming into contact with the works underway. During the preconstruction stage the Contract Manager liaised with the Client to provide program updates, agree alternative access routes, times of working, periods during the day when noisy works were minimised, as well as providing briefings to building occupants who lived in residential flats above the Concert Hall. In addition to the Site Manager’s daily inspection of works, Bakers’ Contracts Manager held a weekly site meeting with the Site Manager to inspect works, checking quality, health and safety and the progress against the project programme.

The refurbishment works to the dressing rooms and Conductor’s suite included new kitchenette areas, acoustic absorption panels and new timber veneer panels to walls within hardwood frames, redecoration of ceiling panels and carpeting. Fixtures and fittings; multipurpose room units, vanity units, built-in wardrobes, daybeds and tv units hand built out of Cedar of Lebanon, by Bakers of Danbury’s in-house joinery workshop. Bakers’ joinery workshop was used to ensure a tight control of the supply chain in terms of quality and programming. This also enabled a close liaison between Ken Marshall onsite and the Joinery Manager in the workshop in Danbury. Assistant Site Manager Ken Marshall has many years’ experience of onsite carpentry, so was given the responsibility of managing the complex joinery from Bakers’ joinery workshop to installation on site.

Access traps were removed from the stage floor and a new lift car (and framework behind) was installed with Canadian Maple to match the existing. The stage was given an anti-slip finish and fire rated varnish. The wall panels were also given a fire rated finish. New integrated lighting solutions, data works, electrical services and fire alarm systems were also installed. This required close coordination between Bakers’ joiners and mechanical and electrical contractors.

A new air-conditioning system was required to the existing projector room which posed a considerable challenge to the distant location of the plant room. Bakers noted at an early stage that the original design of the system could not be implemented due to existing and immovable plant and structure. Bakers engaged their specialist S.V.Bullen at an early stage, held meetings with the design team and ensured that a designed solution was produced and implemented which enabled the installation of the required system within the confines of the existing structure.

A list of bespoke fittings and other items for interior fit out such as televisions, lamps, bins, tables and chairs were procured cost effectively by Bakers’ Quantity Surveyor, who worked with the Client to review the specification and provide three options per item across a range of budgets.

Refurbishment of Barbican Centre

Summary = A comprehensive refurbishment to the Barbican Centre and backstage dressing rooms, within a tight seven week programme.

Client = The Mayor and Commonalty and Citizens of the City of London (as owners, founder and principle funder of the Barbican Centre)

Challenge = All works were carried out within a functioning backstage of the Concert Hall.

Solution = The Barbican Centre is the largest multi-arts centre in Europe, and forms part of the Grade 2 listed Barbican Estate, reflecting its special architectural and historic interest. After a successful tender through the City of London procurement portal, Bakers of Danbury carried out backstage and stage flooring refurbishment works to the Barbican Centre, within a tight seven week programme. Specifically, this included comprehensive refurbishment works to all twenty one dressing rooms serving the Concert Hall, with the Conductor’s suite and five other dressing rooms refurbished to a 5 star hotel standard. The project also included repair and restoration works to the existing solid Canadian Maple stage floor and riser sections of the Hall's stage area. As it was condensed programme requiring close coordination of a number of complex works packages, we assigned both a Site Manager (Lee Kerrison) and Assistant Site Manager (Ken Marshall) to the project full-time to proactively manage the delivery and ensure it remained on-track and within budget.

As all works were carried out within a functioning backstage of the Concert Hall, temporary walkways were created to enable the Barbican Centre employees to carry on about their business, without coming into contact with the works underway. During the preconstruction stage the Contract Manager liaised with the Client to provide program updates, agree alternative access routes, times of working, periods during the day when noisy works were minimised, as well as providing briefings to building occupants who lived in residential flats above the Concert Hall. In addition to the Site Manager’s daily inspection of works, Bakers’ Contracts Manager held a weekly site meeting with the Site Manager to inspect works, checking quality, health and safety and the progress against the project programme.

The refurbishment works to the dressing rooms and Conductor’s suite included new kitchenette areas, acoustic absorption panels and new timber veneer panels to walls within hardwood frames, redecoration of ceiling panels and carpeting. Fixtures and fittings; multipurpose room units, vanity units, built-in wardrobes, daybeds and tv units hand built out of Cedar of Lebanon, by Bakers of Danbury’s in-house joinery workshop. Bakers’ joinery workshop was used to ensure a tight control of the supply chain in terms of quality and programming. This also enabled a close liaison between Ken Marshall onsite and the Joinery Manager in the workshop in Danbury. Assistant Site Manager Ken Marshall has many years’ experience of onsite carpentry, so was given the responsibility of managing the complex joinery from Bakers’ joinery workshop to installation on site.

Access traps were removed from the stage floor and a new lift car (and framework behind) was installed with Canadian Maple to match the existing. The stage was given an anti-slip finish and fire rated varnish. The wall panels were also given a fire rated finish. New integrated lighting solutions, data works, electrical services and fire alarm systems were also installed. This required close coordination between Bakers’ joiners and mechanical and electrical contractors.

A new air-conditioning system was required to the existing projector room which posed a considerable challenge to the distant location of the plant room. Bakers noted at an early stage that the original design of the system could not be implemented due to existing and immovable plant and structure. Bakers engaged their specialist S.V.Bullen at an early stage, held meetings with the design team and ensured that a designed solution was produced and implemented which enabled the installation of the required system within the confines of the existing structure.

A list of bespoke fittings and other items for interior fit out such as televisions, lamps, bins, tables and chairs were procured cost effectively by Bakers’ Quantity Surveyor, who worked with the Client to review the specification and provide three options per item across a range of budgets.

Bespoke joinery and furniture

Summary = The renovation and internal refurbishment together with a new build pool house extension. To ensure the finished home was of the highest quality; the owners also stipulated high quality bespoke joinery and furniture to be installed throughout.

Challenge = This Grade ll Listed seven-bedroom house was in need of a substantial renovation and sympathetic internal refurbishment throughout.

Solution = The owners were aware of Bakers of Danbury's reputation for providing high quality craftsmanship and were pleased to find out, not only could Bakers of Danbury design the architectural timber work and bespoke joinery and furniture, but also can manufacture everything for the project by using their in-house joinery workshop.

In total the team designed, manufactured and installed the following bespoke joinery and furniture:

  • Internal bespoke fitted wardrobes
  • Internal doors, similar style to the original doors to comply with new fire regulations
  • Two new bespoke staircases with balustrades
  • Sash windows to match those existing and refurbishment of those windows that could be restored
  • Wall panelling to match the existing in the playroom and lounge area
  • Ornate radiator covers
  • In addition to the extensive joinery work, Bakers of Danbury also demolished and re-built the pool house. With new underground drainage, the new pool house now boasts tiled changing rooms throughout, themed lighting and handmade double glazed windows and French doors with fanlights to match the rest of the property.

    Inside the house a beautiful oak floor was salvaged from other rooms within the farm house and re-laid to make an impressive entrance lobby. Elsewhere, the original oak and parquet flooring was brought back to life after being taken up, re-laid, then expertly sanded and finished.

    As a result of the project, the home has truly been brought back to its former glory, with the attention to detail and high quality workmanship shining through. The owners described Bakers of Danbury as being “very professional, skilled and polite”.

    The owners were so impressed with the work carried out, that they asked Bakers of Danbury to return and restore their stable block.

    St Nicholas Church, Harwich

    Summary = Restoration to St Nicholas Church in Harwich, Essex included repair to water damaged walls, brick and stone repair and replacement, re-pointing and window surround replacement.

    Value = £60,000

    Location = Harwich, Essex

    Solution = Completed in December 2020, Bakers managed a four month project carrying out restoration to St Nicholas Church in Harwich, Essex. The existing cement render to the parapet walls was cracking and blown in places, and the damaged render was trapping moisture behind it, which was in turn decaying the walls. After the render was removed, deep re-pointing was carried out to the brickwork joints. The fractured and defective yellow stock bricks were replaced with reclaimed yellow stocks. A breathable three coat lime render was applied over the top of the brickwork down to stainless steel bell drips.

    Bakers repaired the brick parapet walls and octagonal chimneys. Bakers' sister company Collins and Curtis supplied window surrounds to two cast iron tracery windows in Stoke Ground stone. The cast iron windows were redecorated and re-pointing was carried out to that section of the South Aisle.

    Internally, Bakers stripped areas of water damaged plastered walls, caused by defective lead downpipes. Three coat lime lime plaster was applied and the walls were redecorated to match the existing decoration. Those defective downpipes were replaced.

    The timber access door to the spire parapet was replaced with a new oak door manufactured by Bakers' in-house joinery workshop. Minor electrical works were also carried out.

    Past Restoration Projects at St Nicholas Church

    In 2010 Bakers carried out a full redecoration of the whole church and installed three stone windows to the east end. Earlier in 2003 Bakers carried out substantial stone replacement to the tower and spire.