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A Film About The Whitechapel Bell Foundry

June 20, 2019
by the gentle author

It is my great delight to present Gavin Kingcome‘s Save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry film


As you will recall, developers bought the world-famous, historic Whitechapel Bell Foundry to convert it into a bell-themed boutique hotel, party venue and private members club with a rooftop swimming pool. Currently they are seeking planning permission for this change of use and we want to stop it.

There is a perfectly viable proposal put forward by the UK Historic Building Preservation Trust with its partner Factum Foundation to continue to operate a full-scale working foundry. This proposal has a credible business plan, experienced management and funding available. The UKHBPT has done this before to great success at Middleport Pottery in Stoke.  This proposal will ensure that East London retains one of the finest craft facilities in the world, adding to the cultural and artistic value of Whitechapel for generations to come.

Recognising that there is a viable alternative to their boutique hotel proposal, the developers have appropriated the language of their rivals by claiming they are actually ‘reinstating a foundry,’ meaning that bell polishing will happen in the lobby of their hotel sometimes. The reality is they are reducing the foundry use to 12%. In spite of this attempt to muddy the waters, I think the difference between a boutique hotel and a bell foundry is quite obvious.

The East London Mosque is the Whitechapel Bell Foundry’s closest neighbour and, in the planning application, the developers claim “Several attempts were made to contact the Mosque.” Yet the Mosque confirms that no attempt to consult with them has been made by the developers. In fact, the East London Mosque is wholly in favour of restoring the Whitechapel Bell Foundry to its full capacity as you can read in their letter of objection to the hotel proposal.

Click on this letter to enlarge


Click to enlarge this plan showing the top floor of the boutique hotel of 100 rooms with rooftop swimming pool and bar overlooking the East London Mosque

This picture of Shoreditch House rooftop swimming pool and cocktail bar gives an indication of how the plan for Whitechapel will be realised

The developers plan to put a bell on the top of their bell-themed boutique hotel


You can help save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry as a living foundry by submitting an objection to the boutique hotel proposal to Tower Hamlets council. Already we have lodged over six hundred letters of objection but we aim to deliver over a thousand. If you have not already done so, please take a moment to write your letter of objection. The more objections we can lodge the better, so please spread the word to your family and friends.

Readers who have already objected will have received notice of revisions to the developers’ planning application. No response to this is necessary since all the objections still stand and the revisions make no significant changes to the boutique hotel proposal.

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HOW TO OBJECT EFFECTIVELY

Use your own words and add your own personal reasons for opposing the development. Any letters which simply duplicate the same wording will count only as one objection.

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1. Quote the application reference: PA/19/00008/A1

2. Give your full name and postal address. You do not need to be a resident of Tower Hamlets or of the United Kingdom to register a comment but unless you give your postal address your objection will be discounted.

3. Be sure to state clearly that you are OBJECTING to Raycliff Capital’s application.

4. Point out the ‘OPTIMUM VIABLE USE’ for the Whitechapel Bell Foundry is as a foundry not a boutique hotel.

5. Emphasise that you want it to continue as a foundry and there is a viable proposal to deliver this.

6. Request the council refuse Raycliff Capital’s application for change of use from foundry to hotel.

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WHERE TO SEND YOUR OBJECTION

You can write an email to

planningandbuilding@towerhamlets.gov.uk

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you can send a letter to

Town Planning, Town Hall, Mulberry Place, 5 Clove Crescent, London, E14 2BG

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You may also like to read about

A Bell-Themed Boutique Hotel?

Nigel Taylor, Tower Bell Manager

Benjamin Kipling, Bell Tuner

Four Hundred Years at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry

Pearl Binder at Whitechapel Bell Foundry

Dorothy Rendell at Whitechapel Bell Foundry

Hope for The Whitechapel Bell Foundry

A Petition to Save the Bell Foundry

Save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry

So Long, Whitechapel Bell Foundry

Fourteen Short Poems About The Whitechapel Bell Foundry

10 Responses leave one →
  1. Ron Wilkinson permalink
    June 20, 2019

    I applaud your effort and hope you are successful. It’s important to any nation, city, borough, town to save it’s craft and heritage. Turning a neighborhood into a kind of Disneyland is not preservation. Theme parks are not communities.
    Ron Wilkinson, National City (San Diego area) California, USA

  2. Julia harrison permalink
    June 20, 2019

    I have already sent my letter and just wish it was as clear and to the point as the East London Mosque’s.

  3. Jill Wilson permalink
    June 20, 2019

    A “Dantastic” film which I hope will inspire lots of other people to get behind the alternative plans for the foundry…

    The Factum plans have got so much more depth to them than the Raycliff plans which although they say they will preserve the old buildings and do some bell founding on site it is all on a much smaller scale and smacks of Disneyfication.

    We want proper crafts and skills happening in the foundry, not just something for the tourists!

  4. Buzz St Clair McCarthy permalink
    June 20, 2019

    Thanks for the email address and details…I’ve sent my objection to the council.

  5. June 20, 2019

    It says it all above the door
    Stands here five hundred years or more !
    Just who on Earth will think it cool
    To see a rich man swim in a pool?
    Private members bathing on a roof
    One less trade for our youth !

  6. John Evans permalink
    June 21, 2019

    The preservation of crafts like bell founding is essential to maintain skills that will otherwise be lost. We will always need skilled founders for as long as bells ring out over the land. I earnestly hope that this foundry will be allowed to continue its historic and necessary work.

  7. mlaiuppa permalink
    June 22, 2019

    A rooftop pool in London? And exactly how many days of the year will it be used?

    So they think polishing bells a few days of the year in the lobby is reinstating the foundry? Where do they plan on getting these bells? How long before they don’t even bother to pretend?

    I hope Town Hamlets does right by the foundry and allows it to be reinstated by the charitable organizations that have a viable, practical and respectful plan.

    If there is anything London doesn’t need, it’s another hotel hiding behind a façade.

  8. Mark Venner permalink
    June 26, 2019

    500 years of history lost to satisfy the whims of a few. How many hotels luxury or otherwise do we need ? or more importantly do we have, far more than historical sites such as this, a place that you could say gave London its unique sounds. So many of not only this countrys and other countries most famous bells were cast here, The Liberty Bell, and Big Ben to name but two.

    We must stop throwing away our heritage like this, places such as this, and the skills that were demonstrated within must not be lost to the price of a comfy bed for a few nights. What a sad waste of our history. Do the right thing Tower Hamlets.

  9. June 29, 2019

    This is my letter. I hope it suits:
    Application Reference: PA/19/00008/A1
    This is a strong objection to Raycliff Capital’s application for a change of use.
    The ‘OPTIMUM VIABLE USE’ for these historic buildings and this historic site is as a foundry, not an anonymous hotel.
    From: Gregory Kent Hubbard
    Los Angeles, California, USA 91326

    The Whitechapel Bell Foundry has been intimately involved in history around the world. Their very name conjures memories of the starting and ending of wars, celebrations and public announcements. They are a symbol of the United Kingdom and its cultural influence across the globe.
    Its proposed replacement, a boutique hotel with a rooftop pool, would be devastating. One is unique, and has meant England and its world-wide impact for centuries. The other is one of many thousands, and could be built anywhere and no one would notice.
    For the developers, this is a convenient site. In a statement by the East London Mosque, they have not been contacted by the developer, as the developer has stated. If they are willing to tell lies in regard to contacting a sacred place of worship, what else is untrue?
    For us, who love Great Britain, whether we’re residents or not, this is what Britain means, literally centuries of tradition brought forward into our new century. It has been, and is, a great reason for the pleasure of visiting Tower Hamlets.
    The factory is viable. The business plan that has been proposed to reopen the factory is viable. They simply require your support to continue making bells, as they have since the 1500’s, with a direct line back to the early 1400’s.
    The future of a vitally important international treasure is now in your hands. The choice is between a business founded when Queen Elizabeth 1 was on the throne, or a relatively anonymous hotel with a rooftop pool and perhaps token bell polishing in the lobby. Please choose viable history over anonymity; please choose the foundry, the current land usage, and refuse the boutique hotel’s change of land use request.
    My thanks.
    Gregory Hubbard

  10. Anthea Rata permalink
    July 13, 2019

    Reference the application reference: PA/19/00008/A1

    Dear Sirs
    I wish to register my objection to the Raycliffe Capital proposition for the Whitechapel Bell Foundry site, I wish it to remain as a Foundry. That will be it’s optimum viable use and not conversion to a boutique hotel with a token bell stuck on the top.
    Whilst our own bells at Kingston upon Thames were in the process of being recast and rehung in a new frame at Whitechapel in the mid 1970’s several members of our band of bell ringers including myself used to visit the foundry most Saturday mornings to see how the work was progressing and many members of the church went there to watch the new bells being cast. Indeed we, the bell ringers did most of the work ourselves in removing the old bells from the tower, loading them on the lorry and then dismantling and disposing of the old wooden frame and preparing the tower for essential building work that needed to be done.
    When the tower was ready we also helped the Whitechapel bellhangers fit the frame and hang the bells in the tower.
    We have a complete photographic record of all the work done both at Kingston and Whitechapel should you wish to view it.
    I repeat I wish the site to continue as a working foundry and I gather that there is a plan that has been put forward to realise this. I urge you to support this plan and refuse Raycliffe Capital’s application.

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