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Rally To Save The Bell Foundry

November 6, 2019
by the gentle author

The application by developers to convert the historic Whitechapel Bell Foundry into a bell-themed boutique hotel will be decided by Tower Hamlets Development Committee next week on Thursday 14th November.

In advance of this, a rally is happening on Saturday. Please spread the word as widely as possible among your family, friends and workmates. It is very important that we demonstrate the strength of feeling in the local community for our bell foundry. Everyone bring a bell to ring!


Photographs copyright © Peter Dazeley

Photos by Peter Dazeley from his book Unseen London

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16 Responses leave one →
  1. Jill Wilson permalink
    November 6, 2019

    I’ll be there – with a mega bell cut-out!

    And I hope that as many people as possible will come along to show their support, and help save the bell foundry from the horrible fate of being turned into yet another naff boutique hotel.

    It deserves a far better and more meaningful future as a reinstated working foundry.

  2. Linda Granfield permalink
    November 6, 2019

    May the streets be full of clanging (and tinkling) bells.

    May success be yours!

    I’ll ring a sympathetic bell in Toronto. Those of us who love all that history gives us will be with you in spirit.

  3. Paul Loften permalink
    November 6, 2019

    I shall be there with a bell.
    A sigh of relief as my team plays on Sunday and it’s on TV, so I miss nothing !

  4. Adele permalink
    November 6, 2019

    Wish I was in London and able to attend this rally. Hope they have a huge turnout.
    The foundry is one of my enduring childhood memories.

  5. Paul Loften permalink
    November 6, 2019

    A word of advice for anyone looking to get hold of a bell quickly. Find a local shop selling Hindu religious artefacts. They sell beautiful decorative brass bells with a lovely ring tone for around a fiver. The bells can also be used for a multitude of other good causes such as alerting your cats or other interested parties that food is being served etc.

  6. Peter Pierobon permalink
    November 6, 2019

    I was fortunate to visit the Bell Foundry several times over the years while it was still in operation. What an amazing and unique window into the past it was. These types of historical experiences are as rare and valuable as any gemstone and I for one would continue to visit and pay my fair share for the privilege. As we race into the future it is important to remember the past and how we toiled and created solutions that utilized the latest technologies and expertise. Please save the Bell Foundry for the generations to come as a touchstone to our past. Peter from Vancouver, Canada.

  7. Maggie Hobbs permalink
    November 6, 2019

    Can’t be with you but hope it is a huge success and hope somebody actually listens

  8. Greta Kelly & Shane Minogue permalink
    November 6, 2019

    We will be there, with bells on!
    Christmas Bell, Titanic Bell!

  9. mlaiuppa permalink
    November 6, 2019

    If you are rallying at the mosque I hope you plan to walk to the Foundry, ringing along the way and that plenty of media have been alerted. Nothing like a big parade on the news along with an interview or two about what they are planning. You reach a lot of people that way. I hope you have a lot of people on all sorts of social media to advertise the event. You need masses of people and on camera on all of the news programs to show that the people want the foundry saved.

    (What is happening with the Mulberry?)

  10. November 6, 2019

    Afraid I can’t come but will ring my 1st WW gas bell (It’s very loud).
    Good luck

  11. Kristine Dillon permalink
    November 7, 2019

    I wish you every success. My own country’s famous Liberty Bell was cast in this foundry. I feel that you are not only advocating to save something of great historical significance for London and England, but also for the rest of the world and I thank you.

  12. November 7, 2019

    As a direct descendant of the Oliver family who worked consecutively for 250 at the Whitechapel Bell foundry until the 1980’s, Iam appalled that the foundry is being considered for redevelopment. The last Oliver worked there from the age of 14 until his retirement. His name was Ernest Oliver who made and tuned handbells. He flew to America when the Liberty Bell was repaired at the foundry and he attended the bicenteniary celebrations. His father John Ethelbert Oliver (known as Bert ) was my grandfather . He was also a handbell maker and tuner and was photographed on the fro nt page of the Daily Mirror dated 29th March 1919 with the King and Queen when they went to the Foundry to see the Peace Bell that the King had commissioned . John Ethelbert then played on his handbells ‘Eileen Alannah’ and quote ‘the Queen hummed the air right through in a clear voice ‘. JohnEthelbert’s father was George Oliver and was a bell tuner and bell hanger and his father George had his own foundry inBethnal Green and then moved to the Whitechapel foundry. Their names can be seen on the boards that are on wooden plaques on the wall of employees. Then we have Charles Oliver, Georges father, born 1783 in Wornash, Surrey and was a bell founder/hanger and carpenter and was used by the Foundry as their chief bell hanger. He had a foundry in Whapping and was commissioned to make cannons and two Carronnades cannons can be seen outside the front entrance at the RSYC at Yarmouth with his name inscribed on the sides . I will make every effort to travel to Whitechapel for the appeal and will bring the handbells that my uncle Ernest Oliver made with me on behalf of all the involvement of the Oliver family . My mother Florence was John Ethelbert’s daughter and I am currently researching the family and have lots of facts and photos of the Foundry and a copy of Thomas Lester‘s will in which he left the foundry to his solicitor John Exeter in Trust for his granddaughter Sarah Oliver on the understanding that she rented the Foundry to his nephew William Chapman for £75.00 per year. This has never been listed on the owners list of the Foundry. Sarah Oliver married Robert Patrick a Bell Founder who was in a partnership with Thomas Osborn in Downham Market, Norfolk and then set up a Foundry in Whitechapel. Sarah and Robert’s descendants eventually sold the Whitechapel Foundry. If anyone has any information on the Oliver family I would love to hear from them Linda McArdle

  13. November 8, 2019

    Wonderful to see the making of the Bells!! They are Amazing!!!?????????

  14. Louise permalink
    November 11, 2019

    Dear Linda,

    It was great to read your post – my name is Louise Oliver, and Ernest was my grandfather. My father Robert is your cousin I believe, but sadly we haven’t met before.
    Living in the East End, and also being very proud of the Oliver family history at the foundry – I have been following this campaign from the beginning, and do my best to show up and pledge my support to saving the Bell foundry at every opportunity. We took the Oliver family contingent to the rally on Saturday, and I am planning on being there on Thursday for the planning permission meeting. This is a travesty, and really must be stopped.
    It would be great to speak to you further.
    Warm regards,

  15. November 29, 2019

    Dear Louise, Thank you for your comments. As you know, Iam researching our family history. I have read the committee’s decision. After all the campaigning and effort of thousands of people and eminent historians the decision actually was made by one man only. The committee comprising of six people were divided by three who were for and three against and then the chairman made his decision to go ahead with the boutique hotel. It makes a mockery of democracy. All the people who know the history of the foundry and the workers must be devastated that one man can be responsible for this momentous decision. Does he really know the history. The world knows the sound of Big Ben resounding round the capital of England. That sound kept England resolute during wars and difficult times. king George V commissioned the Peace Bell to be made there. The Liberty Bell was made there. I hope the American company who bought the foundry and are going to build the boutique hotel know what a piece of history they are going to destroy . My great, great grandfather George Oliver made the mould for Big Ben and accompanied it to be hung at Westminster. many uncle Ernest Oliver accompanied the Liberty Bell when it was returned to America after its repair ready for the bicentenary celebrations. Did Mr Abdul know all the foundries past history when he made his final decision. I hope there will be an appeal . Linda McArdle

  16. Caroline permalink
    May 12, 2020

    Hi Linda and Louise!

    Caroline Oliver here. Descended from Charles Oliver and many William Olivers! It would be great to connect. I am only now becoming away of my family history.

    With love,


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