The resurrection of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry

The Whitechapel Bell Foundry is a cultural heritage site in the heart of London, in the borough of Tower Hamlets, of worldwide importance. This renowned foundry has been based in Whitechapel since the reign of Elizabeth I; producing such bells as Big Ben, the Liberty Bell, Bow Bells and the Bells of St Clements. Until very recently, it was Britain’s oldest manufacturing company, a working community and a repository of invaluable craft skills.

In June 2017, the historic Whitechapel Foundry was acquired and the use of these Grade 2* buildings for the making of bells ceased. Despite its unique and profound importance, campaigns in the national press, and enormous emotional public outcry, the WBF was sold and closed.

The United Kingdom Historic Building Preservation Trust (UKHBPT), an independent charity under the founding patronage of The Prince of Wales, has teamed up with Factum Foundation, a UK and Spanish registered not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the documentation and preservation of cultural heritage through the application of new technologies together with craft skills. Through this partnership, the Whitechapel Bell Foundry can again become a viable foundry that specialises in bells, but can also produce special edition artworks in bronze and other materials.

The new owner, Raycliff Whitechapel LLP, has submitted a planning application which seeks to secure a Change of Use and development of the site as a 100-bed hotel, private members club, restaurant, bar, café and shop, with desk-sharing workspaces. The founding activity on site in the Raycliff Whitechapel proposal has been reduced by nearly 90%, to a small shop and studio for the casting of hand bells in a corner of the restaurant and cafe.

You can help save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry by taking a moment to submit an objection to the boutique hotel proposal to the Tower Hamlets council. Information on how to do so can be found here.

The below document called "Supplement to the June 2018 document" focuses on the Raycliff Whitechapel LLP Planning Submission. It accompanies the ‘Saved by the Bell! The Ressurection of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry’ proposal, which contains detailed descriptions of how a 21st-century bell foundry would operate, statements of support by artists, architectural historians and Nigel Taylor, the former Tower Bell Manager at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry.

Additional resources:

- East London Advertiser - 11/02/19
- Charles Saumarez Smith's blog
- Spitalfields Life interview of Nigel Taylor - 10/02/2019
- Financial Times - 03/08/18
- The Guardian - 21/07/18
- Apollo Magazine - 05/01/17
- The Economist - 24/12/2016
- The Guardian - 02/12/16

Supplement to the June 2018 Document

February 2019

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'Saved by the Bell! The Ressurection of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry'

June 2018

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