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We Make An Offer For The Bell Foundry

November 12, 2022
by the gentle author

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The foundry, shuttered and graffitied since 2017

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After campaigning for six years, I am delighted to announce that this week The London Bell Foundry made an offer to acquire the former Whitechapel Bell Foundry at market value. The London Bell Foundry is a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee, set up with the purpose of operating a bell foundry in Whitechapel, combining traditional bell founding with the use of digital technology.

Although the hotel scheme is now dead, the judgement of the Secretary of State’s Public Inquiry into the future of the foundry in 2020 obligates the owner to ensure foundry activity continues at this site.

We seek to acquire the Grade II* listed buildings as a permanent home for the London Bell Foundry.

We want to open it as a fully-working foundry, re-establishing the world’s most famous bell foundry that operated in Whitechapel for five hundred years from the reign of Elizabeth I to the reign of Elizabeth II.

Our mission is to reinvigorate the art and science of bell founding through a marriage of new and old technology, casting church bells, artists’ bell, ceremonial bells, and bells for all occasions.

We are working with Nigel Taylor, foreman at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry for forty years, alongside artists of international stature and a team of the foremost experts in the technology of casting.

We plan to maximise the educational potential, through apprenticeships for local people and work with schools and colleges in East London.

Our first commission was the Covid Bell in 2021, designed by Grayson Perry in support of our mission, which debuted at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2022. The Covid Bell will tour NHS hospitals, enabling those have been bereaved to toll the bell in remembrance.

The Elizabeth Bell is a forthcoming commission to commemorate seventy years since the coronation of Elizabeth II.

The London Bell Foundry has demonstrated a proven financial model that can ensure the tradition of bell founding continues in this country in perpetuity.

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SUPPORTERS

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“I fully support the proposal by the London Bell Foundry to establish a working foundry at the historic Whitechapel site. It is tragic that the bell foundry has been shuttered up since 2017. The presence of a rejuvenated modern bell foundry will once again assert Whitechapel as a place of creative innovation and restore the international reputation of the place where Big Ben and the Liberty Bell were made.”

Lutfur Rahman, Mayor of Tower Hamlets

“The Whitechapel Bell Foundry is one of the East End’s most treasured institutions, with a history stretching back to the 16th century. The foundry made Big Ben, America’s Liberty Bell and more locally the Bow Bells. So many people in the community are campaigning to save as much of the original building as possible, and to keep it as a working foundry. I am proud to support the Save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry campaign, and encourage everyone to join in. Together we can save this important feature of East End life.”

Rushanara Ali, MP for Bethnal Green & Bow

“The East London Mosque & London Muslim Centre welcomes the proposal from the London Bell Foundry to reestablish a working foundry in Whitechapel. This will provide apprenticeships and work experience in traditional and digital crafts for the local community.”

Sufia Alam, East London Mosque & London Muslim Centre

“The re-established Whitechapel Bell Foundry would add significantly to the creative offer in East London. As the V&A East establishes a substantial presence at Stratford and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and develops particular links with the adjacent boroughs, we would welcome the opportunity to promote the Whitechapel-based art and bell foundry. Combining traditional skills with innovative technology and the offer of apprenticeship and further training in this specialised field will enhance the interpretation of the V&A’s important collection of works of art in bronze. Continuing the centuries-old tradition of bell founding in London with its global outreach will enrich the cultural presence and attract national, regional and international interest.”

Dr Tristram Hunt, Director of Victoria & Albert Museum

“The Whitechapel Bell Foundry is a crucial component of historic Whitechapel. That it has survived for so long on this site, and in such fascinating and evocative buildings, is nothing short of a miracle. Its survival as a working site is vital both for future generations and for Whitechapel.”

Heloise Palin, Spitalfields Historic Buildings Preservation Trust

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Learn more at our new THE LONDON BELL FOUNDRY website

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Charles Saumarez Smith & Dickon Love will be talking about The London Bell Foundry & London Bells at the Salon for London at the Horse Hospital in Bloomsbury on Thursday 24th November. Click here for tickets

Grayson Perry’s Covid Bell at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2022 (Photograph © David Parry/Royal Academy of Arts)

You may also like to take a look at

The Whitechapel Bell Foundry Is For Sale

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

35 Responses leave one →
  1. Laura Williamson permalink
    November 12, 2022

    This is wonderful news. Hope.

  2. Juliet Jeater permalink
    November 12, 2022

    Really great news. Hoping it will be completely accessible for local people.

  3. Su C. permalink
    November 12, 2022

    This thrills me to no end! The hard work and the dedication of you and so many is proving fruitful and I wish you all the luck that your market value offer is accepted! I was lucky enough in fall of 2016 to have been allowed a glimpse in the foundry after having bought some bells as gifts and told the long history by the wife of the owner. We walked to the large side door where we could see the workers and took a chance and chatted a bit. When the news of the closing came just a few months later I could only imagine those workers’ (nay, artists’) faces when told they were closing up. I can only hope the joy that may be felt when you buy the Foundry far outweighs the sorrow back then.

    Fingers crossed for your success!

  4. November 12, 2022

    I wish your group every success in securing and restoring the foundry.

  5. Robin E permalink
    November 12, 2022

    Hurrah. Many years ago, I was taught change ringing in the USA on a peal of bells from Whitechapel.
    Hurrah, Hurrah, Hurrah
    May they ring always throughout the world.

  6. November 12, 2022

    This is great news. I have just sent my monthly piece to our local Bulletin, as it happens about our church bells in Chipping Campden, in the Cotswolds. Now I must add this news, as our bells were cast at Whitechapel Bell Foundry and were being recast when a photo of the foundry was taken some years ago and then used, I think, in newspaper publicity for the appeal. So the impact of this will be felt far and wide.

  7. November 12, 2022

    Encouraging and wonderful news, keeping fingers crossed in hope.

  8. Peter Smith permalink
    November 12, 2022

    Wonderful news just as we learn that that the bells of the Elizabeth Tower – including Big Ben – are returning to regular service. Let’s hope that the offer is accepted. Well done!

  9. Jean Mason permalink
    November 12, 2022

    This is truly wonderful news hoping for a successful outcome.

  10. mlaiuppa permalink
    November 12, 2022

    That is great news. I am so happy the foundry is saved. I can’t think of any reason the London Bell Foundry would not get this site if it is offering full market and the owners are obligated to have a foundry on the site. What else can they do? This is very exciting. I hope you keep us informed and we eventually see photos of the new foundry in action and the first bell to come off the line.

  11. November 12, 2022

    I hope that the project will work out. Maybe the big change will come in 2023. It could be that I, too, will return to England next year…

    Love & Peace
    ACHIM

  12. Mary permalink
    November 12, 2022

    Wonderful, wonderful news! I wish you all every success.

  13. Milo permalink
    November 12, 2022

    Fantastic news. Made my day/week/year. This IS going to happen. I feel it in my bones.

  14. November 12, 2022

    Dear TGA, this is some of the best news that I heard for ages. I do hope all your wonderful efforts are successful.

  15. jennifer galton-fenzi permalink
    November 12, 2022

    What excellent news. Good luck to all concerned.

  16. Eve permalink
    November 12, 2022

    Ding dong! Fantastic.. so happy for the Whitechapel Bell Foundry & all its campaigners & supporters – super <3

  17. November 12, 2022

    Hurrah and huzzah to everyone involved in these efforts.

    Like all great works of art, the Grayson Perry bell is evocative of varied ethnic touchstones. The encrusted surface reminds me of “memory jugs” created by Outsider artists ….. and African
    nail fetish figures replete with shards and bits of mirror ….. plus amulets, talismans, ex votos, and gris-gris charms. “Magic is the only power worth having.”

    GA, thanks for the optimism, as ever.
    Onward!

  18. Gail FARROW permalink
    November 12, 2022

    This is wonderful news – let’s hope for the best possible result

  19. Frances Sterling permalink
    November 12, 2022

    Hooray! Hooray!! This is wonderful news, so much hard work and dedication has paid off. Huge congratulations 🎉

  20. Teresa Clark permalink
    November 12, 2022

    Never give up hope! Amazing news!

  21. Linda Wilkinson permalink
    November 12, 2022

    Wonderful. Shall await updates.

  22. Margaret Shea permalink
    November 12, 2022

    Great news to hear we holding onto a piece of local important history, and to develop and use it as a going concern to provide skills and work for the unemployed. Not selling and disposing our heritage to the highest bidder for a quick profit. But given it’s Church Bells Foundry it’s not lost on me a gesture of goodwill and interest to receive a donation from the Church of England would be a mark of respect and encouragement in retaining our beloved CBF. GA have you considered this or what does followers/readers think on here.

  23. Linda Granfield permalink
    November 12, 2022

    Splendid news this morning!
    Thanks to all involved in preserving this birthplace/home of so much art and history. Good luck with the sale!

  24. Paul Loften permalink
    November 12, 2022

    This is good news! I am hoping that this bid will succeed . It makes sense to build on the the historic significance of this site . Not only does it make sense to anyone with a sense of history but it makes sense to anyone with a sense of business . People are tired of bland facades and opportunistic short term ventures that end in failure and the bad effect it has on the locality The establishment of historic Bell Foundry would be a dream come true for the whole area and a magnet for visitors from all over the world .
    Thank you GA for leading the campaign and all those who have got us this far

  25. Andy permalink
    November 12, 2022

    Lovely news indeed!

  26. November 12, 2022

    Very heartening news. Thank you GM for letting your readers know.

  27. Ros permalink
    November 12, 2022

    What a huge amount of work has been going on behind the scenes! I do hope it is crowned with success and that the new bell foundry will flourish. Congratulations on all the work so far.

  28. Greta Kelly permalink
    November 12, 2022

    The dark and dreary morning has erupted into a volcano of light with this news! Well done to all who fought tooth and nail to achieve this outcome.
    Let the bells ring out!

  29. robin permalink
    November 12, 2022

    Fantastic! What can we do to help make sure it really happens this time?

  30. November 13, 2022

    That’s wonderful news. Fingers crossed all that hard work pays off and the offer is accepted. Fingers firmy crossed!

  31. November 13, 2022

    This is great news, not just ensuring that Bow Bells can ring out welcoming the birth of Cockneys, but that the peal of church bells all over the country will continue throughout Great Britain!

  32. Alan Denney permalink
    November 13, 2022

    Can we buy shares?

  33. Steven Tiainen permalink
    November 13, 2022

    Great news. So happy to hear this and hope to visit one day.

  34. Ruth Levitas permalink
    November 14, 2022

    This is such good news. Thank you.

  35. Dr John Radford permalink
    November 14, 2022

    Wonderful news. Having explored London for seventy years now (I arrived in 1952 and consider myself a platinum Londoner) I greatly welcome the salvation of this most historic establishment.

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