Skip to content

Dorothy Rendell At Whitechapel Bell Foundry

March 17, 2019
by the gentle author

In common with Pearl Binder, Artist Dorothy Rendell was also fascinated by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry and made frequent visits over the years to record the life of this celebrated institution. Significantly, in her drawings Dorothy chose to focus upon the Afro-Caribbean and Asian workers who rarely appear in photographs of the foundry. These pictures are selected from the Dorothy Rendell Archive at Bishopsgate Institute and are published for the first time today.

Meanwhile, Dorothy Rendell’s posthumous solo exhibition runs at Abbott & Holder, 30 Museum St, WC1A 1LH, until 23rd March. I will be speaking about Dorothy at the gallery at noon on Saturday 23rd March.

If you have not yet sent your objection to the proposal to redevelop the Whitechapel Bell Foundry into a bell-themed boutique hotel please do so. You will find instructions for how to do this below. So far, we have lodged over 600 objections versus 3 letters in favour.

Images courtesy Bishopsgate Institute

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 this weekend to write your letter of objection. The more objections we can lodge the better, so please spread the word to your family and friends.



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.


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.



You can write an email to


you can send a letter to

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



You may also like to read about

A Bell-Themed Boutique Hotel?

Nigel Taylor, Tower Bell Manager

Benjamin Kipling, Bell Tuner

Pearl Binder 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

9 Responses leave one →
  1. March 17, 2019

    Fascinating that one of the workers is reading a book in his lunch hour – now he would probably be looking at a screen. What a lot we can learn from artists.

  2. John Barrett permalink
    March 17, 2019

    Poet John liked today’s input

  3. Jill Wilson permalink
    March 17, 2019

    Yaaay! Fantastic that Dorothy Rendell also did drawings of the Bell Foundry…and brilliant that there have already been so many objections. It would be even better if we could make it over a thousand. Come on anybody who hasn’t yet written or emailed…

  4. Jill Wilson permalink
    March 17, 2019

    I am going to send an addition to my original objection saying that I have found the hotel proposal very sneaky and dishonest… there is a lot of guff about saving the bell foundry when in reality there would only be a token bit of small bell making, and only right at the end of the Raycliff planning application is there a mention of the hotel, almost in small print in an attempt to get their hideous proposal through…

    I just hope the planning people at Tower Hamlets can see through this subterfuge, and see how much better the alternative plan would be!!

  5. Diana Levey permalink
    March 17, 2019

    These images by Rendell are incredibly good, don’t know how else to respond briefly to them. I must say, that I love photography…but there’s nothing that can capture like an artist whose talent is very fine. Thank you again for making her available to us to know and her work to enjoy.

  6. March 17, 2019

    Oh now you have gone too far . The exposure of these wonderful paintings and drawings by Dorothy Rendell is a sneaky act! Designed to inflame the feelings of innocent bystanders who only saw a few bells and tools hanging abouta deserted workshop Now we see a history of workers and artisans . we see people creating , working , thinking . We see things that have been going on at this foundry for centuries. That is not what people are supposed to do ! They are meant to sit in the foyer of bijoux hotels and drink coffee.
    I am just an innocent bystander .

  7. Eric Forward permalink
    March 17, 2019

    Living here I’m biased, but there’s something magical about the East End. Creative people also seem to get drawn to the same places. I move away this year, I’m going to miss it so, so much.

  8. Jennifer Newbold permalink
    March 17, 2019

    Every time I look at Dorothy Rendell’s work I think, “God, she had such an enormous talent!” I almost expect the men in these drawings and paintings to step off the page and have a conversation with me. THANK YOU for being her champion. Otherwise these are things I would never get to see.

  9. August 23, 2019

    As ever, Dorothy Rendell’s paintings & drawings are marvellous. I had not seen most of these before now. Even though I knew Dorothy, she never was one to draw attention to her work (I did see her Soho drawings) apart from a few paintings. Thank you GA, as the previous post says, for being her champion.
    I just hope that sufficient numbers of residents or workers will voice their complaints about the proposed hotel…how awful it sounds…

Leave a Reply

Note: Comments may be edited. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS