Skip to content

Rory Stewart Declares His Support To Save The Whitechapel Bell Foundry

December 19, 2019
by the gentle author


‘An imaginative planner, in fact anyone with any imagination seeing the possibilities here, could not possibly turn this down’ says Rory Stewart


Independent Mayorial Candidate for London, Rory Stewart, came to the East End on a damp wintry day this week to offer his support for our campaign to Save The Whitechapel Bell Foundry as a proper working foundry.

Last week Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick, issued a Holding Order preventing Tower Hamlets Council proceeding with granting permission for change of use to the developers who want to turn the Whitechapel Bell Foundry into a boutique hotel, while he decided what to do.

Now the election is over and Robert Jenrick is back as Secretary of State, we are waiting to hear if he is going to call in the planning application and hold a Public Inquiry. So Rory Stewart’s declaration of support for the campaign this week is opportune timing and we hope this will encourage the Secretary of State to call in the Whitechapel Bell Foundry.

At East London Mosque, Rory Stewart met Steven Musgrave of UK Historic Building Preservation Trust who outlined their plans to reopen the foundry as a proper working foundry and make it viable again, just as they did at Middleport Pottery in Stoke. Then Sufia Alam of the London Muslim Centre spoke on behalf of the mosque and the local community in support of the campaign, explaining Whitechapel Bell Foundry’s immense cultural significance in terms of local pride of place and the opportunity that a renewed foundry offered for apprenticeships, training and education.

Then it was time to head out from the Mosque into the rain where local campaigners had gathered outside the front door of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry to greet Rory Stewart.

Speaking of his enthusiasm for the potential for a renewed bell foundry marrying old and new technology, and with a strong relationship to the local community, he declared, “All of this in one of the most interesting parts of our city – so an imaginative planner, in fact anyone with any imagination seeing the possibilities here, could not possibly turn this down. This is a challenge of courage, it’s a challenge of joyful imagination and of adventure, and we need to let the bells ring forth!”


Rory Stewart in conversation at East London Mosque with Sufia Alam of East London Mosque and Stephen Musgrave of UK Historic Building Preservation Trust

Charles Saumarez Smith welcomes Rory Stewart to the Whitechapel Bell Foundry

Rory Stewart declares his support for our campaign outside the foundry

“This is a challenge of courage, it’s a challenge of joyful imagination and of adventure, and we need to let the bells ring forth!” – Rory Stewart

Rory Stewart at Whitechapel Bell Foundry

Photographs copyright © Andrew Baker


These are three key reasons why the Secretary of State should call in the Whitechapel Bell Foundry and hold a Public Inquiry


You may also like to read about

The Secretary of State steps in

A Letter to the Secretary of State

Casting a Bell at Here East

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



14 Responses leave one →
  1. Ron Wilkinson permalink
    December 19, 2019

    This is so cool to see a diverse community come together for the best interest of all. This is what a community should be like. I sure hope it works out, it’s going your way. I’m giving you my best wishes. You guys are inspiring.
    Ron from San Diego, California.

  2. December 19, 2019

    Please preserve the Bell Foundry, Such a great part of East London. A wonderful building with Exceptional work of great skill. A truly wonderful place.

  3. December 19, 2019

    Good man!

  4. Robin permalink
    December 19, 2019

    Wonderful! Community support for the Foundry at all levels. Glad you’re with us, Rory Stewart.

  5. Amanda permalink
    December 19, 2019

    Well done GA and the amazing community for gaining Rory’s endorsement.

    l spoke with Sufia at the first meeting at the Mosque and was very impressed with her solid support – a lovely person too.

    l felt all was not lost at that horrible planning meeting and a small miracle WOULD prevail.

    Blessings to beloved Schrodinger who has taken the greatest feline care of the GA during recovery from breaking his arm while helping a good cause.

    Fond wishes to all GA readers around the world at Christmas time. Lovely to read all your comments.

  6. December 19, 2019

    Greetings from Boston,

    GA, that is good news – that Rory Steward provides his strong support for the preservation of the Bell Foundry in the East End. What a career he has had! I enjoyed his books, THE PLACES IN BETWEEN, about his solo walk across Afghanistan in 2001 and later PRINCE OF THE MARSHES that presented a “sobering picture of the difficulties involved in creating a coherent Iraqi state based on the rule of law.”

    Kudos to all in continuing the good fight.

  7. Linda Granfield permalink
    December 19, 2019

    Well done, all!

    On the day you hear the Foundry has been saved (and you will indeed hear that!) I hope one of your powerful signs will be donated to the Museum of London.

    There it will be a permanent reminder of how a community worked together and accomplished great things.

    2020–a happy new year is certainly in front of the Foundry supporters.

  8. Nicola permalink
    December 19, 2019

    I got my letter off in support. Great that Rory has joined the cause: this must surely help.

  9. Paul Loften permalink
    December 19, 2019

    I was a bit miffed when I went by car to the protest outside the Tower Hamlets Town Hall and followed the map coordinates and found myself being stuck in traffic in the middle of the Blackwall Tunnel with a voice telling me I had reached my destination I never did find the new Town Hall i and had to give up as the traffic was so bad in the rush hour. I should have used public transport. But we live to fight on.and we will save the foundry. with the help of ordinary folk like me and public figures like Rory Stewart .

  10. December 19, 2019

    So pleased that Rory Stewart is lending his support to the campaign to save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. My great great grandfather worked there in the 1850s/1860s so I feel particularly strongly about this, it is part of my family history.

  11. December 19, 2019

    This is encouraging and all party politics aside, good for Rory in recognising the importance of this.

    As Ron says above, this is the genuine coming together of a rich and diverse community in a common cause.

    Wishing the peace and happiness of the season to all involved in the fight.

  12. mlaiuppa permalink
    December 20, 2019

    Keep the pressure up. Jenrick may feel now that he is safely elected he can blow you off. So keep those letters going to keep the Bell foundry foremost in his mind.

    As for Tower Hamlets, it wouldn’t hurt to point out the very questionable procedure that brought you to this point. Seems to me there are quite a few violations of proper procedure. Those responsible should be held accountable. Perhaps even….replaced.

  13. Jill Wilson permalink
    December 20, 2019

    I was delighted to be there to hear Rory’s impromptu speech outside the foundry and to realise that he totally gets why it is so important to save it.

    Let the bells ring out indeed!

  14. Jude permalink
    January 6, 2020

    In researching my family history I discovered this. It’s Shetland Isles – a long way from London.

    “Externally, the church is a fairly plain, grey-harled box, with a bell tower at the top of the west gable. The bell in residence dates back to 1858. It seems likely that the material it is cast from, in London’s Whitechapel, came in part from an earlier Bressay bell dating back to 1723.”

    The parish church.

Leave a Reply

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

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS