The old hands at Bayes Roofing have been caring for the listed buildings of Suffolk and its neighbouring counties across three generations. Professional Builder’s Lee Jones talks to the father and son business.
It’s not just the father and son team that makes one Suffolk roofing company a family affair because, with a long association with the historic properties that they specialise in repairing and preserving for posterity, some of their proudest projects can equally be counted as practically one of the family.
Having been established by the eponymous George and his father, Bayes Roofing has evolved into an expert port of call for old buildings, with a particular focus on leadwork.
“I’ve been working on the firm since I was 16 and there are some buildings that we’ve been going back to periodically across that entire length of time,” explains the now 38-year old son Danny.
“Often the area that we’ve initially been asked to renew will show up those that haven’t so there are some properties that we’ve re-roofed in stages over the course of my mine and my father’s career, and even his father before him.”
“We’re a third generation company,” adds George. “My father, George Leonard Bayes, started tiling as a subcontractor with the Marley Tile Co around 1950, having served as a Marine in the Second World War.
When I left school in 1963 we formed a partnership and worked almost exclusively for Marley until 1980, when we struck out on our own. Danny started with us when he left school in 1995 and we actually did several jobs with the three of us on one roof.”
At 68, and still going strong, the patriarch of the business certainly has a considerable weight of experience to impart, but has seen some new ideas emerge through his own tenure and, with Danny input, that is a process that has continued.
Lead roofing is one of the most traditional of trades and many of the tools and techniques haven’t changed as long as the Bayes family has been climbing ladders, but with a new generation always comes new ideas and that is true even of this ancient building material.
“Myself and my father would never weld the lead but always bossed it,” recalls George, “but Daniel took the trouble to teach himself lead burning so we bought him a bottle and off he went.
Its malleability makes lead such a good material to work with and the finish you can achieve is often stunning. That sense of pride in a finished job is something that’s never left me in this job and never will.”
With the theft of lead from church roofs still a serious problem, Bayes Roofing generates a lot of its business in that sector. “When you’re specialising in that kind of property you tend to move in a particular circle of people professionally and that’s how we generate much of our work,” explains the 68-year old roofer.
“We have a website that has generated business for us but word of mouth is still our biggest ally and it certainly keeps us busy.”
The antique properties that make up the towns and villages across Suffolk and north Essex are fertile ground for the firm. In fact, not only does the Bayes family ply their trade side by side but they are also close neighbours in the Suffolk village of Cockfield, so clearly this is a relationship that is as durable as the lead they shape for their roofs.
For further information on Bayes Roofing visit www.bayesroofing.co.uk or call 01284 828312
Just like one of the family!
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