New first for award-winning city builder

Builder Kevin Baker points to a newly-installed swift box on a brick garage gable in north Norwich.

Builder Kevin Baker - Credit: Archant

A prize-winning bricklayer and builder in Norwich has just installed special nest boxes for summer migrant birds.

For the first time in his 17 years running his building firm, Kevin Baker, from Hellesdon, was asked to fit swift boxes to the brick gable of a new garage in the city.

“It was actually very easy fitting the purpose-designed boxes. As we were working on top of the hill in Chamberlin Road the swifts were flying past and shrieking,” said Mr Baker.

“We used two Manthorpe swift boxes – designed by the RSPB – and placed them towards the top of the brick gable,” he added.

“I’ve never been asked to fit them before but it has worked very well. Now the test will be next spring when the swifts return from Africa to nest,” said Mr Baker, who won a silver trowel in an open bricklaying competition held by builders, RG Carter.

He added: “The EDP’s former agricultural editor Michael Pollitt asked me to fit the swift boxes, which cost a total of £50. Although the boxes should ideally be placed at least five metres above ground, it will be interesting to see if they can adapt to slightly-lower level boxes because the garage is just over 3.4 metres high.”

The garage also includes features including Ashley brick corners and “soldiers” lined up across the lintel, matching the house’s 1901 brickwork.

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Mr Baker who trained with specialist heritage builders Lushers in the early 1990s, set up on his own account in 2003.

His wife, Louise, is also a director and runs the back office and accounts.

He employs one full-time member of staff, scaffolder Chris Smith, who has just completed 10 years with him.

He also works with a skilled network of other expert trades including plumbers, electricians, carpenters and plasterers as required.