Skip to content

Casting A Bell At Here East

December 12, 2019
by the gentle author


This week, some of us who have been campaigning for the past three years to Save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry met together to cast a bell as a symbol of our collective belief that the foundry has a viable future as a proper working foundry.

The event was a collaboration between Factum Foundation, who want to be the operators of the renewed Whitechapel Bell Foundry, and the Bartlett School of Architecture who opened their new workshops at UCL Here East in the Queen Elizabeth Park this year. Photographer Rachel Ferriman was there to capture the drama of the bell casting which took place under the expert supervision of Technical Director Peter Scully.

There was a celebratory atmosphere, after last week’s announcement of a Holding Order by the Secretary of State halting Tower Hamlets Council from granting permission for change of use to the developers who want to reopen the Whitechapel Bell Foundry as a bell-themed boutique hotel. Yet a breathless hush fell upon the assembly as the crucible was opened and tilted, allowing molten bronze at 1200 degrees to flow in a narrow golden stream, as bright as the sun, into the ceramic mould to cast a 6 kg bell. There was silence as we witnessed the sacred alchemy of bell casting, a ritual that has been enacted in the East End for at least seven centuries. It is a magic that we will not give up because it is at the core of what defines this place and binds our community.

The Secretary of State’s Holding Order gives him time to consider whether to call in the Whitechapel Bell Foundry planning application and determine it himself by holding a Public Inquiry. While he is deciding what to do, we need as many people as possible to write and ask him to call it in.

If you have not yet done so, please write to the Secretary of State because the more letters we send the better our chance of saving the Whitechapel Bell Foundry.

Use your own words and give your personal opinions but be sure to include these key points below. Read the guidance and write today, then forward this to your friends and family, encouraging them to do the same.



  1. Ask the Secretary of State to call in the planning application for the Whitechapel Bell Foundry and hold a Public Inquiry.
  2. Point out that the hotel planning application causes ‘substantial harm’ to a very important heritage asset.
  3. 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


Peter Scully adds an ingot of the raw material

Peter measures the temperature of the molten bronze

The ceramic bell mould is heated to 500 degrees to ensure no moisture remains

Once the mould is ready, the team must work fast

With the mould in place, Melis van den Berg begins to tip the crucible

As Melis begins to pour the metal from the crucible, Peter is ready to push any hardened metal aside from the flow

The molten bronze flows from the crucible into the mould

Melis and Peter chip away at the ceramic mould, revealing the form of the bell

A moment of reflection at the completion of the casting

The bronze bell, prior to finishing

Photographs copyright © Rachel Ferriman

You may also like to read about

The Secretary of State Steps In

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


10 Responses leave one →
  1. Su C. permalink
    December 12, 2019

    And many more pours and bells to come! Good luck!

  2. Jill Wlson permalink
    December 12, 2019

    I was privileged to be at the event on Tuesday night which was a truly inspiring, and gave a wonderful demonstration of how old and new skills and techniques can be married together to continue the specialist art of bell founding in Whitechapel today.

    I was most impressed to learn that the new style electric furnace is so environmentally friendly that it actually cleans the surrounding air, and virtually no heat is lost in the process (unlike in the old style oil fired furnaces). And with the help of 3D printing techniques the new moulds will be much quicker and easier to make, and much more precise. The finishing and polishing of the bells could also now largely be done by machine.

    However Peter was quick to point out that human skills and judgement will still be very much part of the manufacturing process, and it was wonderful to hear that he is so keen to get UCL involved in the rebirth of and continuation of a centuries old bell founding tradition in the East End.

    And to echo the GA’s words – if you haven’t already written to the Secretary of State please do so now!! It really is a worthwhile cause…

  3. Greta Kelly permalink
    December 12, 2019

    Dear Friends of Whitechapel Bell Foundry, how can I find out if the foundry made bells for churches in Ireland?

  4. Jill Wilson permalink
    December 12, 2019

    PS I was talking to Peter after the demonstration about his trip to his local church bell tower and he told me that when he played back the recording he realised that he really knew the unique sound of that particular set of bells, and that unbeknownst to him the familiar sound had steeped deeply into his subconscious.

    I’m sure it would be the same for any of us lucky enough to live within the sound of church bells.

  5. Donna Reeves permalink
    December 12, 2019

    Marvellous – seeing the created bell.

  6. December 12, 2019

    Some uplifting news and I hope today’s post will be forwarded to The Secretary Of State along with all our letters.
    Let’s hear it for RING and not BLING at The Whitechapel Bell Foundry!

  7. December 12, 2019

    How wonderful! Great to see positive things happening today

  8. mlaiuppa permalink
    December 12, 2019

    That is really fascinating.

    They should present one of those bells to the Secretary while he is considering his decision.

    Oh, and keep the pressure on. With the holidays here it is a typical distraction for forces to push their agendas through while they think no one is paying attention.

  9. Ron Bunting permalink
    December 13, 2019

    Even from the other side of the world, the election result may bring on a wave of sensibility to London political life and see an end to the Disney like theme park the developer wants to create. In this day and age, the on line booking of single rooms and apartments has seen most hotels struggling to fill rooms .So if his Hotel doesn’t succeed,then his plan B of themed bars will be implemented.

  10. Chris Ashby permalink
    December 13, 2019

    A day late, I’ve just written – better later than never.
    Thanks for all your hard work.

Leave a Reply

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

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS