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The Death Of The Whitechapel Bell Foundry

May 14, 2021
by the gentle author

A story that began more than five centuries ago in Whitechapel ends today with the announcement of the Secretary of State’s decision to give the go ahead for the bell-themed boutique hotel, destroying the possibility of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry ever having any future as a fully working foundry.

Click here to read Hettie O’Brien’s account of the long campaign to Save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry





You may also like to take a look at

The Fate of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry

So Long, Whitechapel Bell Foundry

The Secretary of State steps in

A Letter to the Secretary of State

14 Whitechapel Bell Foundry Poems

Rory Stewart Supports Our Campaign 

Casting a Bell at Here East

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

Dorothy Rendell at Whitechapel Bell Foundry

Pearl Binder at Whitechapel Bell Foundry

John Claridge at Whitechapel Bell Foundry

61 Responses leave one →
  1. Jenikya permalink
    May 14, 2021

    Ridiculous! In the future, they will realise what a mistake they have made! I can’t believe this went ahead!

  2. Nan Holcomb permalink
    May 14, 2021

    I am so very sorry to hear this. I know many supporters voiced their opposition to the destruction of the Foundry. I’m sure that you and the hundreds of other supporters are crushed by this unfortunate decision. Once again, Big Money gets the OK, and local people are ignored. I wish I could personally thank all those people who did such magnificent work for so many years. But I live in Seattle, WA, on the far west coast of the US and it’s just not possible for me to come over and shake their hands, buy them a pint, and thank them for their great work. I believe they cast our Liberty Bell, back in the day! You are in my thoughts.

  3. jan royal permalink
    May 14, 2021

    So sad, after all that effort

  4. Ellen Savage permalink
    May 14, 2021

    Dear GA, I am appalled beyond words. All who fought to preserve this precious bit of England’s history have my deepest sympathy.

  5. Gary Horton permalink
    May 14, 2021

    I have been following this interesting story for quite some time here. The decision to not save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry is rather disappointing. I’m not entirely surprised, considering the general indifference to historical buildings and heritage by local authorities all across London, along with other areas across the UK. Historically interesting buildings are simply not valued at all by councils everywhere, as this example clearly illustrates. As time inevitably rolls by, places like the Whitechapel Bell Foundry will become victim to property developers who only have one agenda. To make money and to make a gigantic profit.
    London has become totally refurbished by property developers over the recent decades, and not for the better I hasten to mention. What’s next I often wonder? Hyde Park repurposed into a shopping mall? Victoria Parkin Hackney repurposed into a multi story car park or yet another office block? Who knows? Going on previous evidence I would not be surprised if plans were not already being drawn up to destroy other valuable historical buildings.
    It’s very sad but it’s very important to continue with public petitions whenever places of genuine interest and value become threatened by developers.
    Keep on keeping on!

  6. Ruth Offer permalink
    May 14, 2021

    Shattered beyond words.

  7. May 14, 2021

    This is very sad indeed. I can hardly believe my eyes reading the Secretary of State’s letter. All that hard work and money raised – for nothing. Thank you so much for taking up this good cause right from the beginning.

  8. May 14, 2021

    Devastating yet unsurprising. It was a stitch-up from day one.

  9. GregTingey permalink
    May 14, 2021

    Greedy thieving wreckers

  10. May 14, 2021

    It is very sad to hear about this decision. The Secretary of State’s reasoning is typically muddled. Despite the efforts of the Gentle Author and his readers: Once again, commerce has triumphated.

    Love & Peace

  11. May 14, 2021

    Shame on them!
    This is a real disgrace and disappointment.
    This unique building deserves better.
    Thank you for all your efforts with the campaign

  12. May 14, 2021

    It is very sad to hear about this decision. The Secretary of State’s reasoning is typically muddled. Despite the efforts of the Gentle Author and his readers: Once again, commerce has triumphated.

    Love & Peace

  13. Frank permalink
    May 14, 2021

    Disappointed. Since reading your first article about it I hoped one day to be able to visit.
    Sounds like now it’s a definite no.

    Why not turn it in a museum at least…

  14. May 14, 2021

    Shame on them all.
    So sorry Gentle Author, this is a very sad day indeed.
    Thank you for the instrumental part you played in trying to save this much loved East End landmark.

  15. May 14, 2021

    To be honest, it’s not a surprise. It is Tory policy to support developers and it was announced in the Queen’s speech that they are going to make it even easier now for developments to be approved.
    And still people will vote for them.
    I became sick of seeing London’s character ripped out years ago. From the wonderful pubs lost, the classic cafe’s that English Heritage wouldn’t list, the fantastic shop fronts on Jermyn Street, owned by the Crown Estate, but Prince Charles was powerless to stop being lost… Too many. I’m tired of trying to convince money grabbing idiots like the Secretary of State that there is an existing London that is worth preserving.
    Good luck with the Mulberry tree.

  16. Annie Green permalink
    May 14, 2021

    A bad decision.

  17. Carole Semaine permalink
    May 14, 2021

    So very sad, and what a disgraceful example to set for future generations, that greed is good and that underhand tactics are the best way to do business. These people disgust me.

  18. Jill Wilson permalink
    May 14, 2021

    This is really sad news and comes as a devastating blow to all the campaigners who tried to keep the building as a working foundry, especially as there was such a good alternative on offer.

    And it must have hit you GA particularly hard after all your hard work and inspirational blogs about the whole sorry saga.

    But I hope you can take comfort from the fact there was an overwhelming response and support from all over the world for the effort to save it, and at least the developers have had to adapt their plans from their even more horrendous original ideas!

    And as Clare Wood has said lets hope it acts as a wake up call, and that other unique heritage assets won’t be lost so easily.

    So – fingers crossed for the Bethnal Green mulberry tree, and the Truman Brewery…

  19. May 14, 2021

    A travesty and a tragedy. It will be interesting to see if Mr Siegal and/or his companies purely coincidentally donate to the Conservative Party shortly, in the footsteps of Richard Desmond.

  20. Robert Land permalink
    May 14, 2021

    A tragedy but when you look at the type running the country, not an unexpected one.

  21. Peter Holford permalink
    May 14, 2021

    Obviously another hotel that may or may not thrive in the coming years is a far more logical option for a philistine, doctrinaire, free-market bunch of Tories. I thought conservative meant protection but it seems that in George Orwell’s Newspeak it now means vandalism.

    They pretended to look at the issues but with Jenrick in the driving seat and open to bungs from developers paid into Tory Party accounts (ref: Richard Desmond’s ‘donation’ after Jenrick saved him $40million by pushing through an illegal permission) it was always likely that the ‘money’ option would get the green light and not the one that respected heritage and community.

    Words cannot express what I feel about this bunch of charlatans.

  22. Gilbert O’Brien permalink
    May 14, 2021


  23. May 14, 2021

    I’m very sad, and I wish I could say shocked, at this decision. What bothers me the most is the realisation that so very few of these campaigns result in something being saved. After that, I’m bothered by the thought that these developers always under-deliver on their promises to maintain the tradition and important structures. I will ‘look forward’ to seeing how the promises in the documents actually translate to reality. Keep the faith!

  24. Nicola J permalink
    May 14, 2021

    How very disappointing. I cannot believe it was granted, given the strength of the opposition to such a historic site.

  25. Eve permalink
    May 14, 2021

    It’s very sad that this characterful old foundry’s authenticity will be lost to accommodate yet another hotel – London will be all the poorer without it’s historic architecture, specialised craft and artefacts of olde worlde charm – for the sake of big business .. boo!

  26. May 14, 2021

    So sad and sorry to hear of this decision.

  27. Martin Pover permalink
    May 14, 2021

    More vandalism from the Tories. A crass & ignorant decision. Our US friends look on, aghast.. I’m embarrassed. Who can now respect this Government’s judgement never mind its pretence to representation or leadership. 50 years ago I, with thousands of others, took to the streets for the best part of a year to defend Covent Garden from similar Gov-backed plans to ‘develop’ the whole site. Who now thinks we should have stood aside and let them have their greedy way? I will never accept this decision and will continue the fight.. As a start, can we appeal?

  28. Pauline Taylor permalink
    May 14, 2021

    This sad news is what I expected,I am afraid as, based on his record, I believe the minister in question to be a corrupt member of the most corrupt government in living memory. You should watch out for donations to Tory party funds, our country and all that is precious to us is being destroyed day by day. I am way beyond angry and so sorry for all those who fought so hard for the Bell Foundry, it is yet another sign of the truly appalling times that we live in.

  29. May 14, 2021

    How very sad and disappointing. I was convinced it wouldnot go through, but it did. Apparently the past does not seem to have much interest. I’m so sorry.

  30. Dave Crosbie permalink
    May 14, 2021

    I am disgusted by this. To do this to a site of such cultural and industrial importance to not only the UK but to the world in general is nothing short of vandalism.
    The foundry should be financed as a showcase to bell making and its historical legacy. It could be a major attraction as a heritage site to our industrial past and the skills of the craftsmen who made such great bells. Instead we have corporate greed and blatant disregard for our cultures and our past

  31. daphne steele permalink
    May 14, 2021

    I wished I could say that I am surprised but although to read it in black and white has made it a sad day for all of us that care deeply about London and its history, I feel we all knew deep down that money and ignorance would prevail as it always does at the moment. Profit winning as always over heritage and Robert Jenric should hang his head in shame.

  32. Mary-Ann Tait permalink
    May 14, 2021

    The decisions of this government and their ministers continue on the same path we have observed over the past few years. I am completely unsurprised.

  33. May 14, 2021

    Hallo Gentle Author. I am heartbroken by this news, as I am sure you are. I have written this on my Facebook page: “Today is a very sad one. The appeal to save the 500-year-old Whitechapel Bell Foundry, where thousands of bells including Big Ben, the Liberty Bell, and Bow Bells were cast, has failed. Developers Raycliff Capital, a US venture capital company founded by New Yorker Bippy Siegal, is going to convert the site into an American-style bijou boutique hotel and commercial enterprise. In November 2019, at a heated meeting of the Tower Hamlets Development Committee, the Chair, Councillor Abdul Mukit, MBE, gave the casting vote in favour of Bippy Siegal’s plans. On May 13th, 2021, the Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, granted consent permitting the development of the site by Raycliff Capital. Re-Form Heritage had presented a viable alternative through a partnership with Factum Foundation to reinstate production of bells on the site with advance new techniques. This shows the greater power of American money over English heritage in England. This is historic vandalism.:

  34. Peter Halston permalink
    May 14, 2021

    Is it wrong to hope that Robert Jenrick may be afflicted by Tinnitus?

  35. David Antscherl permalink
    May 14, 2021

    What a shame and travesty! I’m sorry for all those who valiantly fought for the continuance of the Foundry. Once again, business interests and profit trump any other consideration. My condolences to all those opposed this carbuncle.

  36. Linda Granfield permalink
    May 14, 2021

    Can someone hang a mourning wreath with a purple ribbon on the door of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, please?

    I would wear a black armband today, if I had one. I’ve been in a fog–I actually thought this important building was going to be saved. Shocked this morning reading this.

    Must ‘they’ always be victorious?!

    Thank you to all of us who wrote letters of protest. Bless you, GA, for your leadership. And thank you for having documented the Bell Foundry with your photo essays. One hundred years from now, people will study those photos and essays—and ask “why is it gone?”

    On to the Mulberry! I hope a second wreath will not be needed.

  37. Brenda Winter permalink
    May 14, 2021

    What a valiant effort to try and save this incredible site and for what, another boutique hotel? Just what London does not need. Very sad news.

  38. Robin permalink
    May 14, 2021

    Oh this is appalling beyond words. How can anyone trust in government if government listens to money and not to its own people?

  39. Jennifer Newbold permalink
    May 14, 2021

    My initial response on reading this being unprintable, I will simply have to say that I’m crushed. Given the exemplary alternative, I cannot believe that they made this decision.

    It gives me little hope for the Customs House.

  40. Susan Pike permalink
    May 14, 2021

    So very sorry to hear about this sad and devastating decision.
    It is as others have said cultural vandalism.
    The awful vision I cannot get out of my head is what this hideous
    ’boutique hotel’ is going to look like and how very different it could have been.

  41. Nikki permalink
    May 14, 2021

    This is disgraceful. The destruction of London continues.. So so sad.

  42. Ruth permalink
    May 14, 2021

    Too many people think of the price of something rather than its value. We’ve lost a valuable asset and now we have a theme hotel. What gurning money grabbing clots. In 6 months time we’ll probably find out he was given a lucrative directorship in exchange.

  43. paul loften permalink
    May 14, 2021

    Total disgrace, Waste of space. Ruled by men without a face. Our history cleared without a trace.

  44. May 14, 2021

    When there is nothing left in London of what makes it London-the corner pubs, the arches garages, the tatty houses with a great working class history, the unexpected patches of green-when it is a wasteland of “boutique hotels” pretending to make bells, with no one to service them because no one working there can afford to live within travelling distance-maybe they will have a rethink. Problem is, it will be too late.

    I am so sorry and sad.


  45. Su C permalink
    May 14, 2021

    Devastated in Oakland! I love the foundry and hoped hoped hoped that they would see the great loss of HISTORY of world wide importanc if the ghastly boutique hotel moved forward.. Short sighted narrow thinking, succumbing to profit. This will be their legacy.

    There should be a blue plaque placed on the wall outside the hotel that states what was once there for hundreds of years and LIST the names of those who ensured its demise.

    I’m crushed for all of you who worked so hard and testified and created support. You have my undying respect.

  46. May 14, 2021

    Very disappointed like all other readers on this decision. I hoped the foundry would be preserved and given a new lease of life. It is vandalism to destroy this beautiful old building and all the history and stories locked within. But some people don’t care for the past….

  47. John Daltrey permalink
    May 14, 2021

    I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised , we are ruled by truly ignorant people who do not represent us in any way whatsoever. They represent only the greedy developers, to lose such an important and historic business for the sake of one more unneeded crappy ’boutique’ hotel is vandalism.
    They know the cost(Profit) of everything and the value of nothing
    I hope the secretary of state reads Spitalfields Life but I doubt it , he would never understand the feelings of real people

  48. William permalink
    May 14, 2021

    This is very sad. Given it was Robert Jenrick, were we realistic in hoping for a better outcome? The people running this country at present are an utter disgrace.

  49. Sonia Murray permalink
    May 14, 2021

    Money and thieves. This is so sad. GA, you tried so very hard! Seems nobody can fight City Hall and the wreckers who call themselves developers. In my home town, it was the Biloxi Mafia whose “Code” extortion left empty swathes of land where families had lived and local businesses had thrived. Let’s hope that you and everyone concerned with preservation have better luck in saving the ancient Mulberry!

  50. May 14, 2021

    So sorry to read this. Really awful.

  51. Bill Brown permalink
    May 14, 2021

    It was worth fighting for but the card were stacked against us. Money rules I’m sorry to say.

  52. mlaiuppa permalink
    May 14, 2021

    That is a shame.

    I would mount an ongoing campaign to boycott the hotel so they basically go bankrupt, but that doesn’t save the foundry, just punish the developers.

    And what happened to that inquiry of Tower Hamlets and possible corruption, etc? If they are found to have violated the law and corruption is unearthed, could that not stop all projects until inquiries are finished to all of their decisions?

    The entire process just seems to be tainted. I find it hard to believe that if you follow the money, you won’t find some Tower Hamlet members taking money or other goods/services from developers. Quid pro quo.

    Is there nothing further that can be pursued to save the Foundry?

  53. David O’Brien, Jr. permalink
    May 15, 2021

    Sad day. History is being replaced by a boutique hotel. Damn shame.

  54. Ann V permalink
    May 15, 2021

    How sad. This is tragic, disgraceful, greedy, money-grabbing, thoughtless, unbelievable….I could go on. Can anything else be done to save the Foundry?

  55. Annie S permalink
    May 15, 2021

    Very sorry to hear this verdict. I was in Whitechapel High Street yesterday and looked across at the building with great sadness.

  56. Malcolm permalink
    May 15, 2021

    Ultimately responsibility for this comes down to the owner of the bell foundry who decided to sell the building to a developer. It seems to me, from what I have read, that he had no interest at all in the history of either the building or the foundry. It was a purely commercial decision to close the business and sell the building. It was his business and he was entitled to dispose of it in any way he deemed fit. Money was his ambition and money was what he got. Furthermore, Abdul Mukit MBE, a LABOUR party councillor, cast the deciding vote that sealed the fate of the building. So much for local councillors supporting their communities. This decision is, of course, a travesty and a tragedy and all those councillors who voted to pass the plans for the destruction of the most important bell foundry in the world should be ashamed of their duplicity. I also saw no support whatsoever from our incumbent Mayor, Mr Khan, who appears to be simply following the same path of passing every planning application that his predecessor did. London is being eaten and we are not invited to the feast.

  57. Richard permalink
    May 15, 2021

    Sorry to hear this news though I guess partly expected.
    I don’t know if a Labour government would have done any different.
    Well done to all who fought for it

  58. May 15, 2021

    It saddens me to read this. But at least you tried.

  59. Garrick Davis permalink
    May 17, 2021

    Another triumph for philistinism in government. Tragic, short termist and quite soul destroying.

  60. May 20, 2021

    Fury, Fury, Fury. Yet not surprised. What a legacy David Hughes has on his shoulders. Need not have been this way.

  61. May 27, 2021

    there’s a lot of ‘that’ about…in Canada,viz., ‘… There’s a petty war of paint versus protest art happening at the Foundry site in Toronto right now.

    Though the razing of the Dominion Foundry buildings has been delayed for now, the walls surrounding Toronto’s 100-year-old complex have become a back-and-forth between construction company Quantum Murray and locals protesting the Foundry’s demolition.
    Earlier this month, supporters and members of the group Friends of the Foundry erected an art installation on the south side of the site.

    The installation, which transformed the plywood attached to the south building into a piece de resistance, was decked out with photographs and posters protesting the proposed demolition.

    Wooden hoarding surrounding the north and west sides of the property also got some protest artwork, with phrases like “Save The Foundry” and “Save History” painted on. ..’

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