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John Claridge At Whitechapel Bell Foundry

October 9, 2020
by the gentle author

The Bell Foundry Public Inquiry continues at 10am today, with live-tweeting at @savethewbf. To watch the inquiry, email

John Claridge first visited the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in 1982 to photograph the life of Britain’s oldest manufacturing company, founded in 1570. He returned in 2016, just before it closed, to take another set of pictures. Remarkably, little changed in the intervening years.

‘It was like walking through a time portal,’ he told me. ‘There was a very tactile feeling about the place, where craftsmanship held sway, and my pictures pay testament to that feeling.’




Click here to sign our petition to Save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry


You may also like to read about

The Opening Of The Public Inquiry

So Long, Whitechapel Bell Foundry

The Secretary of State steps in

A Letter to the Secretary of State

Rory Stewart Supports Our Campaign 

Casting a Bell at Here East

The Fate of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry

Save Our Bell Foundry

A Bell-Themed Boutique Hotel?

Hope for The Whitechapel Bell Foundry

A Petition to Save the Bell Foundry

Save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry

Adam Dant’s Bells of Whitechapel



Click here to order a copy of John Claridge’s EAST END for £25

6 Responses leave one →
  1. October 9, 2020

    I’m still not over the fact that it was closed and sold. It left me stunned. I was born and raised in a pre revolutionary era town along the Delaware River (Burlington NJ). I visted the Liberty Bell several times,back in the days that allowed touching the bell. That bell is a magnificent critter,and yet, no where near as majestic as Big Ben (who’s chimes I love so much I have them saved on my Youtube account). It just guts me that someone wants to make this ancient establishment a boutique hotel. I’ve signed the petitions. I wish I could do more to preserve this history. Once history is lost ,it is gone. Now is the time to save this from that sad fate.

  2. Mary permalink
    October 9, 2020

    John Claridge captures the essence of the East End so well. These are remarkable photographs showing the grime of centuries in this very special place. It is almost magical that from this dirt and filth emerges something so wonderful!
    It is inconceivable that this part of our nation’s history could be destroyed.

  3. October 9, 2020

    “Tactile”. I was sputtering, trying to find words to salute these incredible photos, and luckily found the ideal word, right there in your intro. “Tactile”. John Claridge has literally ushered us inside the foundry, and now our eyes can scan every surface. From a discreet close-up of a weathered hand holding out a bunch of filings for our inspection …. to an upward gaze at the noble chains displayed against the gritty walls … and even a fluorescent light fixture takes on a purposeful elegance, etc. This amazing series of photos speaks in a loud persuasive voice.
    “Art Saves Lives. — and maybe even the Bell Foundry too.”

    Yes, you DO need “East End / John Claridge” in your personal library.

  4. Esther Wilkinson Rank permalink
    October 9, 2020

    Here’s hoping that The Whitechapel Bell Foundry will be saved. We could all use a bit of good news during these trying times.

  5. October 9, 2020

    Wonderful images as always from John.
    He has transported me back to the Foundry that I visited in the past before it’s soul was ripped out by those greedy developers.
    Let us all hope it’s soul can be returned……..

  6. paul loften permalink
    October 9, 2020

    I would encourage everybody to sign the petition wherever they are. it must be the will of the people that prevails and not the will of far off business interests. We know the reality despite all the reams and reams of paper that is being gone over at the inquiry and we know what result we will be left with when the businessmen have not reaped the profit they dreamed of and dispappeared from the scene. It never changes

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