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A Letter To The Secretary Of State

December 1, 2019
by the gentle author

Casting a bell at Whitechapel Bell Foundry in July 1933


We were appalled by the disgraceful decision of Tower Hamlets Council in November to grant permission for change of use from bell foundry to boutique hotel. This destroys any future for the Whitechapel Bell Foundry as a working foundry, reducing centuries of our history to a side-show for tourists in a quirky bell-themed hotel.

It is imperative now that the Secretary of State call in this planning application, taking it out of the hands of Tower Hamlets Council and holding a Public Inquiry. Last month’s farcical planning meeting revealed that the national and international significance of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry render it too important for its fate to be decided by the local authority.

With the forthcoming General Election imminent, we have to move very fast. We need as many people as possible to write to Secretary of State immediately. Use your own words and give your personal opinions but be sure to include the key points listed here. Read the guidance below and write today, then forward this to your friends and family, encouraging them to do the same.



  1. Address your letter to Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government.
  2. Ask the Secretary of State to issue a ‘holding direction’ which means that planning permission cannot proceed.
  3. Ask the Secretary of State to call in the planning application for the Whitechapel Bell Foundry and hold a Public Inquiry.
  4. Point out that the hotel planning application causes ‘substantial harm’ to a very important heritage asset.
  5. Emphasise the significance of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry and the very controversial nature of this proposal, locally, nationally and internationally.

Anyone can write, wherever you are in the world, but be sure to include your postal address and send your letter by email to

or by post to

National Planning Casework Unit

5 St Philips Place

Colmore Row

Birmingham BP3 2PW


The Bell of Hope in Manhattan was cast at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry and presented by the Lord Mayor of London to the people of New York on the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks


You may also like to read about

The Fate of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry

Save Our Bell Foundry

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


20 Responses leave one →
  1. Amy Pilgrim permalink
    December 1, 2019

    Well, GA, for what it’s worth, I’ve thrown my two cents in, all the way from Jacksonville, Florida, United States. I’m sickened by what’s happening, and if my town had something of such profound importance, I would want everyone out there howling and yelling on my behalf, too. Good luck to you all, and keep us posted on the outcome, please!

  2. December 1, 2019

    Job done.

  3. Jill Wilson permalink
    December 1, 2019

    I’m glad there is something positive we can do to help the campaign to save this unique bit of Whitechapel’s heritage.

    I will be composing my letter later today!

  4. Glenn permalink
    December 1, 2019

    TO – Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government.

    I am very concerned about the decision by Tower Hamlets Council to get rid of our local heritage asset, the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. Please issue a ‘Holding direction’ and call in the planning permission so that a public enquiry can be held.

    Tower Hamlets ignored the views of thousands of local residents to approve the ghastly boutique hotel. Losing the Whitechapel Bell Foundry will cause substantial harm to a very important community and heritage asset.
    Historically the Whitechapel Bell Foundry has made internationally renowned bells, including Big Ben and the Liberty Bell. I beg you to help retain this foundry as the planned boutique hotel is a controversial abomination.

  5. December 1, 2019

    Done!!! Keep up the good and vital work!

  6. Hugh Macfarlane permalink
    December 1, 2019

    I have tried to send an email, but it is coming back as not delivered, anyone else having this problem?

  7. the gentle author permalink*
    December 1, 2019

    Use instead

  8. Esther Wilkinson Rank permalink
    December 1, 2019

    Email sent.

    Thank you GA for the advice on what points that should be mentioned.

    I would urge everyone to do this NOW. Emails/letters can be concise and don’t take a lot of time to write. The more that are sent the better.

  9. December 1, 2019

    I’ll send an e-mail today. A you said, the more people from everywhere, the better. Why this urge to destroy a historical heritage? As if we did not need to know what was before us. Terrible.

  10. Jude permalink
    December 1, 2019

    Done 1st Dec by email. Fingers crossed (although think we’ll need more than that)

  11. December 1, 2019

    I’ve just written.
    Thanks for all the work you do.
    Chris Ashby.

  12. Jennifer Newbold permalink
    December 1, 2019

    Just fired it off. This is not over.

    Thank you, GA, for being in the vanguard.

  13. Peter Metaxas permalink
    December 1, 2019

    I will write posthaste.
    Peter Metaxas
    Prince Edward Island

  14. Kate permalink
    December 1, 2019

    Please make sure that everyone knows about the revised email address (maybe a mention in Monday’s blog post?). My emails to the original address were returned as undeliverable, but I ordinarily would not have known it, as they ended up in my spam folder on the server.

    GA, thanks for pursuing this wonderful cause!

  15. John Richardson permalink
    December 2, 2019

    This establishment has to be saved. A crowd funding should do it
    I personally am very cynical about the planning system
    In this Country!

  16. December 2, 2019

    My letter has been sent to the Secretary of State. Below is the main content of my letter.

    Dear Mr Jenrick,

    Re: Whitechapel Bell Foundry

    I am respectfully writing to ask you to issue a “holding direction” on the case of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry which means that current planning permission cannot proceed.

    Additionally, I would also like to request that you ‘call in’ the planning application for the Whitechapel Bell Foundry and hold a Public Inquiry on the proposals, as the current hotel planning application causes ‘substantial harm’ to a very important heritage asset.

    The Whitechapel Bell Foundry is of important historical significance to both London as well as the international standing of the UK. It has cast bells on the same site since Tudor Times, and has cast bells of great historical significance such as the USA Liberty Bell in the 18th century as well as our very own ‘Big Ben’ which rings in the new year in the United Kingdom. The Bell of Hope in Manhattan USA was also cast by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry and was presented by the Lord Mayor of London to the people of New York on the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. In addition, the foundry also cast the ‘Bow Bells’ which were broadcast by the BBC to occupied Europe during World War II.

    Bells are a universal symbol of hope and freedom and above are just a few examples of Bells which the foundry has cast over its immense history. The foundry is of national importance locally to London, but also nationally and internationally and the controversial nature of the proposal to change the use of the foundry into a quirky ‘bell themed’ boutique hotel is a quite honestly a travesty and deserves a full and detailed investigation at the highest level.

    Please may I respectfully request that you issue a ‘holding direction’ and an inquiry on this case without delay.

    Yours sincerely

    Lets hope that with enough letters this case is reviewed as soon as possible.

  17. Edward Rekkers permalink
    December 2, 2019

    Don’t forget the Rt Hon Robert Jenrick is also on Twitter.

  18. Eric Forward permalink
    December 3, 2019

    Yup, just sent too.

  19. Rachel Blaylock permalink
    December 3, 2019

    Written and sent. Thank you GA for keeping this issue to the fore. Let’s hope some sense prevails.

  20. ian jeremy White permalink
    May 19, 2020

    this historic site must be saved.It is a strange and dreadful fact that the historic sites of UK are really only appreciated outside the UK.Pretty soon there will be nothing of our heritage left,if it is left to the likes of Tower Hamlets.Lets hope this ludicrous situation is reversed for ever.

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