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Lament For The Bell Foundry

March 22, 2023
by the gentle author








What a pitiful sight this is. Six years after it shut, graffiti is piling up on the wood-grained fascia of the world-famous Whitechapel Bell Foundry, revealing nothing at all is being done to care for it.

The scheme to redevelop the grade ll listed building into a boutique hotel has been abandoned and now it sits rotting and neglected. When it closed, despite an offer to acquire the foundry and reopen it making bells, Historic England instead misguidedly advocated the boutique hotel as offering the most sustainable future for the historic foundry.

Since the hoteliers have given up, they have put it up for sale. But there are no takers willing to fulfil the obligation imposed by the Secretary of State at the Public Inquiry that any future occupant continue foundry activity, which – you may recall – the developers promised to do by casting bells in a toy foundry in their cappuccino bar.

Yet when The London Bell Foundry, which was set up by those who have been campaigning to save the building as a fully-working foundry, made an offer at market value to acquire it last year, they were only met with indifference from the estate agents.

Has everyone forgotten that this is an international treasure of the greatest importance and a major asset for the Borough of Tower Hamlets and for London? It is evident from the state of disrepair that the developers care nothing for the bell foundry, yet a solution – in the form of The London Bell Foundry – sits waiting.

If you care about the future of the foundry, please write to Duncan Wilson, Director of Historic England, and Lutfur Rahman, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, asking them to intervene to save it.

Here are their emails: and

Copy in


Graffiti is piling up on the grade II listed Whitechapel Bell Foundry

You may also like to take a look at

We Make An Offer For The Bell Foundry

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

25 Responses leave one →
  1. Andy permalink
    March 22, 2023


  2. March 22, 2023

    And I had thought that The Bell Foundry had been saved by now. Too bad, one can only hope that the institutions involved will wake up in time.

    Love & Peace

  3. Winnie permalink
    March 22, 2023

    This seems to be a tactic used by many to wear down and so that eventually something is lost forever. I sound cynical but that has been the way many great things have gone. John Betjamin
    knew this in his struggles to save buildings from the ‘developers’ and bull dozers. One would think that by now in 2023 there would be measures in place (and not façadism, another travesty you rightly flagged up) to save such listed places (and not with the half-cocked idea of yet another depressing boutique hotel). There are many sustainable and better ideas than that.
    Depressingly it seems that money yet again plays a large part in the future fate of many an historic building and by that I mean ‘profit’. Thank you for posting the relevant emails and we must all write and continue to fight even though it has been such a struggle.

  4. Tanya Reynolds permalink
    March 22, 2023

    You are right dear Author, this is indeed a disgrace!

  5. March 22, 2023

    I shall email all of these addresses today. Surely the estate agents don’t have the final say? I can’t see that the London Bell Foundry’s plans are not viable or that grants are not available to support the restoration and development. I’m happy to throw my hat into the ring. God knows I need a distraction right now so might as well make it a cause where my anger can be productive. Thanks GA.

  6. Jill Wilson permalink
    March 22, 2023

    This is really sad and makes me VERY ANGRY!!! I can feel another campaign coming on…

    Perhaps it is time to get the King involved!

  7. Milo permalink
    March 22, 2023

    It is appalling yet depressingly predictable that this is happening. It obviously makes no difference to the estate agents what condition it is allowed to fall into BUT WE MUST NOT LET IT HAPPEN.
    Apart from writing to the people cited is there any other way we can bring attention to this travesty?

  8. Marcia Howard permalink
    March 22, 2023

    So sad to see it like it is

  9. March 22, 2023

    Emails duly written and sent, in the faint hope that they may have some effect. More power to the elbows of all those who continue to campaign! The most distressing aspect of all this is the original insanity of Historic England … one can only hope, in the current climate, that undue pressure was not brought to bear by any interested party.

  10. Ursula Whitbread permalink
    March 22, 2023

    What a brilliant idea to get the KING involved!!! I shall write to him today❗️

  11. Linda Granfield permalink
    March 22, 2023

    These new photos of the bell foundry are sickening to see. I agree with Ms. Wilson–start at the Top with King Charles III who will soon be crowned within earshot of ringing bells made by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry!

    Here in Toronto, when an historical building is allowed to be this derelict and unprotected, the next thing we see/hear is there has been a fire and the ‘problem’ goes away forever.
    May that day’s news never come.

  12. jennifer galton-fenzi permalink
    March 22, 2023

    What an awful sight. What can we do, apart from emailing?

  13. Cherub permalink
    March 22, 2023

    How sad to see such a lovely building defaced in this way. I never understand what makes people derive pleasure from tagging things with graffiti.

    There is a footbridge near to where I live, it has a wall along one side local street artists are allowed to use. Some of the artwork is marvelous, but the tagging gangs destroy it so it then has to be repainted. I just don’t get it.

  14. Adele permalink
    March 22, 2023

    Totally shocked and saddened to see this beautiful building looking so dilapidated! We must do all we can to save it! Hope all GA readers protest against this shameful non-action.

  15. daphne H steele permalink
    March 22, 2023

    Excellent idea to write to the King who I believe did make his feelings clear about how important it was to save it early in the campaign.

  16. Robin permalink
    March 22, 2023

    Emails sent.
    This is just absurd that the Foundry is being left to rot.
    Cannot be allowed to happen!!

    It’s up to us to mobilize; no sense in just waiting around hoping that the ‘powers that be’ will see reason. That clearly isn’t going to happen without public pressure. Apply pressure!

  17. Eve permalink
    March 23, 2023

    A forlorn looking Whitechapel Bell Foundry needs to be protected against such neglect – councils & developers must respect history as the draw bringing many to London to spend their time/(cash) & preserve all such heritage sites for the benefit of the area, which if down-trodden trendy hotels will not be filled ..

  18. March 23, 2023

    I did a painting of the bell foundry just before it closed partly because i had a feeling it would end up a mess.

    Someone wants a nice space ‘right on the edge of The City’ to build some fatuous high rise.

  19. March 23, 2023

    Further to my original comment, I have received one rather disinterested response from the mayor’s office stating that they may, or may not, respond. Although, as I believe that they are supportive of the campaign, maybe it’s the opposition who need to be targeted? I agree with others here that it would be beneficial to apply more pressure. I note that the Foundry is actually available to rent from Pritchards . Is there any way that this is possible and then apply pressure to purchase? Who else could we be writing to and, as others say suggest, supporters mobilise and meet?

  20. Gill permalink
    March 23, 2023

    How about setting up a crowd fund to raise money?

  21. Richard Jensen permalink
    March 24, 2023

    Very Sad outcome. Another eyesore

  22. mlaiuppa permalink
    March 26, 2023

    This is both a tragedy and an outrage.

    Even thought the building is in limbo, the community can step in to save it in a small way. Remove the graffiti and continue to do so. Eventually the taggers will give up when they go back to admire their work and find it is gone every time. Plus it will show that the people care about the building. Compound that into pleas to allow The London Bell Foundry organizations to buy the building and maybe there will be some movement.

  23. marianne isaacs permalink
    March 27, 2023

    Well I just did my bit , Lets hope that the urge toward sensible thinking strikes these people . What is going on in England ????? For that matter the world ! Its just nuts .

  24. Robin permalink
    April 13, 2023

    Received this disheartening reply from Historic England. No mention of any plans to allow the London Bell Foundry to buy the site:

    “Thank you for sharing with Historic England your concerns about the current condition of Whitechapel Bell Foundry. We have discussed the graffiti issue with the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and understand that it is in the process of being addressed. LB Tower Hamlets is continuing to have discussions with the landowner to help ensure that the important complex of buildings continues to be safeguarded, including implementation of restoration works proposed as part of existing planning consents. Historic England will continue to monitor the condition of the buildings.”

  25. Iris Tomlin permalink
    February 13, 2024

    Yes get the King involved!

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