Category Archives: News

Commercial Building Builder Suffolk – Seamans Building provides professional domestic and commercial builds, renovations and extensions throughout East Anglia

Bringing Suffolk’s most famous historic buildings back to their former glory

At Seamans Building, we take enormous pride in breathing new life into some of Suffolk’s most historic buildings.

From resurrecting Grade II-listed buildings from the ashes to restoring iconic town landmarks, it is always a privilege to be involved in such important work.

Buildings such as Cupola House in Bury St Edmunds and the Tide Mill in Woodbridge mean so much to the communities they are part of – so it is a joy to be able to bring them back to their former glory.

David Hart, our Special Works Manager, was one of the first on scene when Cupola House was ravaged by fire in June 2012.

Working alongside structural engineers and insurers, David helped co-ordinate the response of personnel, plant and equipment alongside the local authority and emergency services.

He said: “I got the call when the fire started and worked with emergency services and the town council to get the remains down and make the area and adjacent buildings safe.

“It took three or four weeks until the fire was completely out.

“It’s like a jigsaw puzzle, it really helped seeing how the building was taken down and seeing how all the pieces fit together.”

We were later tasked with restoring the Cupola House, carefully rebuilding the iconic, Grade II-listed building while taking care to retain its features and style.

Another project David said made a big impact on him was the restoration of the Tide Mill in Woodbridge, a Grade I-listed building.

“The Woodbridge Tide Mill is a favourite as before I worked on that project I had no idea of the workings and mechanics of how a tide mill works,” he said.

“While it had been clad with a modern façade, the actual oak framing and everything on the gearing inside was original.

“Once we got in there and saw that, we decided were going to try and keep most of it.

“We put new wooden teeth in the gearing for the hoists, and then had the team create a new water wheel.

“That has to stand out as something you realise you will never do again in your life – it really is a once in a lifetime experience being part of an exciting project like that.

“You also take pleasure from the simple things, like creating features and details that make the building feel like it is the original.

“It’s tangible – sometimes you will walk into these heritage buildings after a renovation, and you just feel as if it has always been like that.”

David said he has his favourite projects over the years.

“There are too many to choose, but the clock tower at Rougham Hall was an incredible project to work on,” he said.

“Being there takes you back to the 1940s, when Germany dropped bombs directly on the site.

“The explosion had stopped the clock on the clock tower at the exact moment the bomb hit the ground – a moment in history frozen in time.

“When looking into the project, we discovered the mechanism that drives the clock is original, dating back to the 1920s.

“Our team got the scaffolding in place and removed six one-tonne bags of straw and debris caused by nesting rooks in the tower – revealing a timber deck and the original gearing of the clock.

“It was incredible to see the slice of history in person. It’s the sort of thing you think wow, no one gets to see that.”

David said some heritage renovations combined modern technology and building techniques to update the property, while bringing it into the 21st century.

“We worked on Thorrington Hall in Stoke by Nayland, which is a National trust property, where we did a refurb there,” he said.

“But the twist here was all the heating of the hot water was with solar panels.

“They set all this kit away from the hall and then ran all the services under the ground into the building.

“Here you have a Grade II* hall with the refurbishment reinstating everything inside meticulously, while also being energy efficient.”

Another project we feel privileged to be part of is the restoration of The George Pub in Wickham market, which was destroyed by fire ten years ago.

The local pub acts as an important community hub in most villages in Suffolk, so we were delighted to have been chosen to rebuild this much -loved building.

Although Seamans have made a name for ourselves resurrecting some of Suffolk’s most historic and eye-catching buildings, David said he takes great joy in the smaller refurbishments that have a big impact on people’s lives.

He said working to rebuild thatched properties destroyed in fires is hugely rewarding, putting back together someone’s dream home.

“It’s like a phoenix from the fire,” he said. “Day one you see this absolute trauma scene and then some months later you are shaking hands and handing back their home fully restored.

“It’s amazing how you can get these places back to where they were and it’s very rewarding when you see the look on the owner’s face.”

David added working on heritage projects really gives you an appreciation of the craftsmanship of years gone by.

“As someone who works in heritage properties, you always appreciate a well put together joint or a peg joint that is correct and true,” he said.

“To think these guys didn’t have the lasers or high-tech equipment we have now – it’s really impressive.

“It makes you wonder what future generations of builders will think when they see our work in years to come.

“I hope they feel that same sense of respect for the trade.”

For more information or to get in touch with a member of the team, please call 01359 230 430.

Scaffolding off at new Felixstowe veterinary practice

Work is quickly progressing at the new veterinary practice in Garrison Lane, Felixstowe – with the scaffolding now removed from the building.

Seamans began work on the project in February on behalf of Ryder-Davies and Partners, which was looking to relocate from its current branch in Queen’s Road.

The framework and structure of the building has been completed, with Seamans contractors now plastering the rooms to give the inside walls a smooth finish.

The building’s reception area, with its tall, vaulted ceiling and large skylights, has been completed and the building’s PV panels have been secured to the roof.

Steve Revell, Senior Contracts Manager at Seamans, said: “The building has now been made watertight and the K Rend white render has been applied.

“The scaffolding has now been removed and our team of contractors are now busy plastering the inside walls.

“All the windows have been put in and the first fix mechanical and electrics containment have also been installed.

“The project is progressing really well – you can see the building take shape and start to imagine how each room will be used.

“It’s great to be able to show the team from Ryder-Davies how the building work is progressing and it’s lovely to hear how pleased they are with the work we have done.”

The new state-of-the-art practice will include a laboratory, surgical theatre and suite, as well as consulting and diagnosis rooms.

Once opened, the new veterinary practice is expected to bring 20 new jobs to the town.

Dr Joe Steventon, Partner at Ryder-Davies and Partners, said: “We come down here every month to look around the new building and are in contact with the Seamans team almost on a daily basis.

“It’s really exciting to see the building progress from a paper drawing to what we see in front of us today.

“You can see it will be a fantastic premises to provide excellent veterinary care, as well as providing future employment opportunities for the town.”

The building is expected to be completed, and the new vets open for business, in February next year.

For more information on Seamans Building and its projects, see here.

Seamans’ solar panels reach energy generating milestone

Seamans Building is proud to have reached a big environmental milestone – having generated enough energy with our solar panels to meet the electric bills of more than 170 homes for a year.

As a construction company, we know we have a responsibility to help protect the environment in any way we can, so 12 years ago we had solar panels installed at our headquarters in Thurston.

Here, Glenn King, our Environmental Champion, reflects on reaching this milestone, and how important it is that companies like ours do our bit to help the environment.

Clean, renewable energy

Our solar panels have graced the roof of our head office at Prospect House since 2011.

Since then, every time the sun has shone we have been generating clean, renewable energy.

We haven’t really paid much attention to the panels since they were installed – they have quietly been generating electricity in the background.

However, last week, after a cursory glance at the panels’ electricity meter, we realised we had hit the 500,000 kilowatt hour mark, or 0.5 gigawatt hours (GWh).

What can 0.5 GWh power?

After some quick Googling, we realised 0.5 GWh is enough electricity to meet the electricity needs of more than 170 homes for a year – which, as a housebuilder ourselves, is heartwarming to hear.

We worked out this would power an electric Tesla S car for 1.7 million miles, and would boil enough kettles to make 16 million cups of tea.

It has also reminded me of Back to the Future – where Doc Brown exclaims he needs 1.21 gigawatts to get the DeLorean to travel through time.

Seeing the dial turn to 0.5 GWh got me thinking – we’re almost halfway to powering our own flux capacitor!

Why it is important for businesses to play their part

Seamans are determined to play a role in protecting the environment and tackling the climate crisis.

If our solar panels have generated 0.5GWh of electricity since they were installed, imagine how much energy could be generated if more companies had them.

Seamans have committed to achieving Net Zero by 2030 and have already reduced our total CO2 emissions by 21.5% since 2011.

This has been achieved through fitting speed limiters to our vans, the introduction of hybrid and full electric company cars, the renewal of vans with more fuel-efficient replacements and the replacement of stores lighting with energy efficient LEDS – to name but a few.

We have also introduced paperless systems in the office, use rainwater harvesting for vehicle washing and energy monitoring of all our heating systems.

On top of this, we are proud members of the Suffolk Carbon Charter and support Suffolk County Council’s Creating the Greenest County initiative.

For more on Seamans Building and the services we provide, see here.

Seamans ready to help destroyed community pub rise from the ashes

Seamans Building is delighted to have been chosen to rebuild a much-loved community pub in Suffolk – which was destroyed in a devastating fire ten years ago.

The George in Wickham Market is set to rise from the ashes after a dedicated team of volunteers raised £1.5million for its renovation.

The restoration project is set to start within weeks thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Community Share Booster Programme, Co-op Finance and The Community Ownership Fund – which is part of the Government’s Levelling Up programme.

Seamans Building is proud to have been selected to take on the renovation of this beautiful grade II listed building.

Ben Whatling, Production Director at Seamans, said: “The George is an important building in the town and we are looking forward to bringing it back to life.

“This renovation is only possible due to the hard work and dedication of the volunteers who worked so hard securing funding.

“We are excited to start this brilliant project – we know how much it means to the town and will make sure the George is put back to its former glory.”

The building, which is Wickham Market’s last remaining pub, was previously believed to have been built in the 17th century but is now thought to date back to the early 16th century and the time of King Henry VIII.

The building was destroyed in a fire in April 2013 and had remained closed ever since.

A spokesman for the George Committee, said: “Without the success of this project this important Grade II listed building would have been demolished and lost forever.

“We can now ensure that The George will be saved to serve many generations to come.

“As an inclusive, friendly place to meet and eat with friends and family it will be the ‘peoples pub’ and the heartbeat of a thriving village.

“We thank everyone that have helped with their belief and investment including National Lottery players everywhere”.

For more information about the project, visit

Seamans Building delighted to join Suffolk Construction Framework

Seamans Building are delighted to have been appointed to the Suffolk Construction Framework.

The framework is led by Suffolk County Council and Concertus Design & Property Consultants and will run until 31st May 2027.

Mark Reason, Pre-Construction Director at Seamans Building, said: “All at Seamans are looking forward to applying our skills and expertise to deliver for the local community. We applaud Suffolk County Council’s intense scrutiny of the broader impact of their investments and their commitment to ensuring public money is re-invested into local people, local jobs, and training.

“Being appointed to Lots 1 and 2 gives us the opportunity to deliver local construction projects up to a value of £4.5m, which is core to our business. We have always invested locally in apprenticeships, skills, and training – the Framework will help us build on that.

“Reducing carbon and improving energy efficiency is the big challenge for the construction industry . Working collaboratively with Concertus, the County Council and our local supply chain to pool our resources, will get the best of Suffolk – for Suffolk.”

Matthew Self, Managing Director at Concertus, said: “We are thrilled that the new iteration of the Suffolk County Council Construction framework is now live.

“It is great to see the enthusiasm of all contractors and suppliers in supporting the Councils ambition to achieve their Net Zero and Social Value targets. These commitments will make a real positive difference to Suffolk communities over the next four years.

“We are excited to see so many local firms appointed and look forward to continuing our positive working relationships.”

Seamans Building is proud of its history of successful projects which provide great benefits to its clients and communities. To find out more, visit the projects page.

Or, if you would like to discuss a project, you can get in touch here.

Long-serving employees celebrated at Seamans Building awards

Long-serving staff at Seamans Building have been celebrated at a special awards ceremony.

More than 80 staff – from newly appointed apprentices to those with decades of service – attended the Victoria in Thurston on April 20 to celebrate the company’s hugely successful year.

As part of the evening, special commemorative coins were presented to the longest serving members of the team.

Managing Director Duncan Haydon kicked off the celebrations with a speech, raising his glass to his team for all their hard work over the years.

Incredibly, among the Seamans team, 32% have worked for the company for more than ten years, with 14% working for more than 25 years.

Duncan said: “Each of you work hard to deliver a huge range of work – heritage tasks, modern new builds, each with unique and, at times, very technical demands, with many of those challenges recognised by industry awards.

“Seamans Building has proven to be a sustainable employer for more than 111 years.

“Few constructors, in fact businesses, in the region can boast such longevity – clearly, we are doing something right!”

The event gave a warm welcome to new members of the team and young apprentices as well as those who have years of experience under their belts.

“Tonight, we say thank you to you all,” said Duncan.

First to be recognised were those that had been with the firm for between 10 and 15 years.

Stephen Thorpe started at Seamans as a 16-year-old apprentice.

He said: “It is funny when you think about it to now be training my own apprenticeships, passing on the skills I learned when I was a teenager.  It’s great though, we have a great bunch of lads working for us.

“Seamans is a really good company to work for.  Your managers’ doors are always open if you need to have a chat.  It has a very family-orientated feeling to it.”

Next up were the 15 to 20 years awards.

Senior Quantity Surveyor Donna Barford has been with Seamans for 17 years.

She said: “We work on projects all over the region, so it is wonderful to have everyone at Seamans all in one place today.

“It’s clear that we all enjoy working for Seamans, and you can see that by how many of our team have stayed with us over the years”.

Project co-ordinator Glenn King was among those to receive a 20 to 35 year commendation for his 23 years at the company.

He said: “I was 17 when I began training at Seamans.

“I started as a technician, doing technical drawing and design work while also doing some buying and getting into quantity surveying.

“It’s a great company to work for, everyone is friendly and on the same side.”

Next up were those who has served 25 to 35 years at the firm.

Neil Prentice, who has been with Seamans since starting in 1994 as a 16-year-old, said; “I have now trained up several apprentices myself now.

“We have a great bunch of lads here at Seamans and everything runs so smoothly.  It’s just a really nice place to work.”

Finally, awards were handed to staff who had been at the company for 35 to more than 40 years.

These were Richard Cobbold, with 36 years’ service, David Latter, with 40 years’ service and David Hart, with 41 years’ service.

David Latter started working for the company in 1982.

“I came here straight from school and have been here ever since,” he said.

“Everyone gets on and feels appreciated here at Seamans – you don’t get that anywhere else.

“It’s also nice to see the youngsters come through.

“It’s great having that chance to train them and pass on your skills – and hope that they listen and learn!”

Duncan added: “This event was the perfect way for the whole team to get together to celebrate our successes.

“It was great to see everyone, from young apprentices to those who have been with us for years.

“We have a brilliant team here at Seamans, and it’s wonderful to have the opportunity to say thank you for all their hard work.”

If you are interested in entering a career in construction, visit Seamans’ careers page here.

Photography by Simply C Photography.

Seamans Building’s long service recipients

10 to 15 years’ service
Clyde Palmer, James Elsden, Stephen Thorpe and Colin Hovells (11 years’ service)
Robbie Stannard, Robbie Barrat  and Tom Smith (13 years’ service )
Karl Landymore (14 years’ service)

15 to 20 years’ service
Donna Barford and Ian Davey (17 years’ service)
Mark Theobald, Rob Sharpe and John Reed (18 years’ service)

20-25 years’ service
Trevor Peck and Paul Koswoski (20 years’ service)
Dale Holder (21 years’ service)
Glenn King (23 years’ service)

25-35 years’ service
Quinny Warner (26 years service)
Neil Honeyball and Neil Prentice (27 years service)
David Locke , Phil Page and Jerry Stafford  (29 years service)

35 – 40 plus years’ service
Richard Cobbold (36 years’ service)
David Latter (40 years’ service)
David Hart (41 years’ service)






David Hart

Work begins on new veterinary practice in Felixstowe

A ground-breaking ceremony has marked the start of construction of a new veterinary surgery in Felixstowe.

Independent veterinary practice Ryder-Davies and Partners is relocating its Felixstowe branch from Queen’s Road in the town to the nearby site on Garrison Lane.

Suffolk firm Seamans Building have now started work on the practice, with the ground currently being cleared ready for the foundations to be cast.

The state-of-the-art purpose-built practice will feature consulting and diagnosis rooms, advanced imaging facilities, on site laboratory, dental theatre and a surgical suite as well as offices and on-site parking and is expected to bring 20 jobs to the town.

Dr Joe Steventon, Partner at Ryder-Davies and Partners, said: “We are relocating having had a branch on Queen’s Road just round the corner.

“Our previous location was a much smaller practice in a residential property, which we moved into 40 years ago, but we have outgrown it.

“It’s very exciting to be able to build a wonderful purpose-built practice in Felixstowe.

“It will provide a superb space to treat and care for the town’s much-loved pets.

“We are really looking forward to seeing the building take shape.”

Ryder-Davies and Partners and Seamans Building at Garrison Lane

Steve Revell, Senior Contracts Manager at Seamans Building, said: “Our construction team and Seaman’s key supply chain partners are all looking forward to building the new veterinary surgery on behalf of our client, Ryder-Davies and Partners – it’s not every day you have an opportunity to build a new veterinary surgery in a local seaside town.

“The design of the new practice is very well thought through, and the overall layout arrangement is superb, and will provide Ryder Davies partnership an excellent facility to care for Felixstowe residents beloved pets for many years to come.”

The new practice has been designed by Suffolk architects Hollins.

Associate of the practice, Matt Payne, said: “This has been a really interesting design to work on.

“We have had lengthy conversations with the client about the design of the building and have visited their other practices to get a better understanding of how they work and how the space is used.

“It has been a very enjoyable project to work on and it is great to see work has begun at the site.”

Ryder-Davis and Partners, which was established in 1973, has other practices in Woodbridge, Ipswich and Rendlesham.

Work on the new veterinary practice is due to be completed in early 2024.

“You learn so many tricks of the trade ” – Seamans apprentices share their experiences learning on the job

Apprenticeships give young people the opportunity to learn new skills and gain experience on the job, giving them an excellent grounding for a career in construction.

To celebrate National Apprenticeship Week, two of our brilliant young trainees, Toby and Charlie, speak about their time at Seamans and how they would urge other young people to consider an apprenticeship.


Toby Drew, 21, from Eye, is a trainee painter and decorator and has been at Seamans since 2020.

Toby - Seamans apprentice

Hardworking and dedicated to his work, Toby is a well-regarded member of the Seamans team.

“It’s a great industry to get into,” he said, “I love it.”

“Houses are built all the time and skilled tradespeople are vital to keeping them in good condition and repair.

“Apprenticeships are great because you get to learn on the job.

“It’s a lot different from learning in class, you get the expert experience of the people working around you.

“You learn so many tricks of the trade.”


Trainee carpenter Charlie Stanbrook, 17, has been at Seamans since he left school.

Charlie - Seamans Building

A talented craftsman, Charlie is a rising star at the company and relishes the chance to take on new responsibilities.

“My father was a builder so I have grown up in that environment,” he said.

“Carpentry was a career I was considering at school. I had heard of Seamans being a reputable local company and thought I would give it a go.

“I have learnt so much from my time here.  I have worked with five different projects so have picked up lots of new skills.

“I really enjoy it here, it’s a great company to work for.

“We all get on really well so it’s a great working environment.

“The people who have been here longer than I have are always ready to share their experience.

“Long-term, I want to become a fully trained carpenter.

“I would advise young people like me to look at going the apprenticeship route.

“It means you can learn a trade while earning money and pick up lots of new skills from actually doing the job.”

For more information on apprenticeships at Seamans and how to apply, visit our careers page.

Tools donation helps people in developing countries create livelihoods

Seamans Building has donated a van-full of tools to a charity set up to help people in the developing world generate their own income.

Suffolk charity Tools with a Mission (TWAM) ships packs of refurbished tools to Africa, giving people the means to create livelihoods and new businesses.

The idea is to create a mindset of independence, not reliance, and to give people the tools to build their own sustainable careers.

In December, the team from TWAM visited Seamans’ headquarters in Thurston, near Bury St Edmunds, to collect the tools – including a range of grinders, drills and cutting tools.

David Hart, Contracts Manager at Seamans, said: “We are proud to play our part in helping people across Africa create new ways of making a living.

“It is wonderful that craftspeople in the UK can help gift tools to fellow craftspeople across Africa –we all share that love of making things by hand.

“It is such a worthwhile cause, and it is great to think these tools will make a real difference to lives across the developing world.”

Tools With a Mission, based in Ipswich, sends trade kits of tools to be used in training centres across Africa, giving people the opportunity to hone their skills and make a sustainable living.

James Noble, Fundraising and Communications Officer at TWAM, said: “We are so grateful to Seamans Building for the large quantity of tools that they donated to us, which were all in such good condition.

“Our tools go to various countries in Africa, where they help vulnerable people living in extreme poverty to learn valuable skills that will transform their lives.

“The money that the tools and skills bring them allows them to feed their families every day and send their children to school.

“The tools from Seamans Building will play a huge role in reducing poverty and suffering in Africa.”

To find out more about Tools With a Mission and how to support them , visit

Quantity surveyor Donna urges more women to consider career in construction

When Donna Barford studied to become a quantity surveyor (QS), she was one of just a few women on her training course – out of 60 students.

But far from putting her off, Donna said the industry is such a fascinating sector, more women should consider it for a career.

Here, Donna, now a Senior Managing QS, reflects on her profession – and her almost 17 happy years at Seamans.

The beginnings of a career in construction

After school I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do as a career and had planned on studying geography at university.

But I attended a surveying-based careers event and visited a PQS practice in Bury St Edmunds.  I found it intriguing and it raised my interest in construction and the built environment.

The more I discovered about the industry, I realised I would like to pursue a career within it, so I started working for a PQS practice in west Suffolk.

As part of my job, I was enrolled on a five-year, part-time degree surveying course. After this, it took a further two years to qualify as a Chartered QS.

Although I was aware construction was a very male-dominated sector, I didn’t allow this to deter me.  I embraced surveying and worked with everyone to build a good rapport.

After working at another PQS practice in Bury St Edmunds, and then a housing association in Cambridgeshire, I started at Seamans Building in May 2006 – and have been here ever since.

A fascinating sector

Construction is such a brilliant industry to get into – it’s the sheer variety of projects you get to work on that makes the job so interesting.

At one time you could be working on the refurbishment of a Grade II listed country house, then your next project could be working on a new build multiple housing scheme, a Design & Build project, a bespoke dwelling, or a fire damaged building, such as Cupola House.

Then you also have exciting projects like the new library at Culford School or the architecturally stunning Balancing Barn in Thorington. The nature of the construction industry means that you don’t know what project could be next!

If you like following procedures, solving problems, meeting people, building relationships and being part of a team, you will enjoy a career in construction.

To any young women who are considering entering construction as a career, whether it be surveying, management, architecture, or whatever path – I would say go for it.

For more information on careers and apprenticeships at Seamans, see our careers page.