The Whitechapel Bell foundry which opened in the Elizabethan era is being sold. The company’s owner Alan Hughes said that the changing realities of running a business of this kind was the key factor in his decision to sell the business.
Hughes has already sold the Grade II-listed building in Whitechapel, the building where the foundry has been based since 1738, and he hopes to find a buyer for the business by the time he retires in May.
The foundry has been owned by Hughes’ family since 1904, but the firm could no longer afford to maintain the building and recently had to spend £20,000 to repair a leak in the roof.
Hughes told Spitalfields Life: “The business has been at its present site over 250 years so it is probably about time it moved once again. We hope that this move will provide an opportunity for the business to move forward in a new direction.”
The foundry has made many famous bells throughout its long and illustrious history. The company manufactured possibly the worlds most famous bell, Big Ben , the sobriquet for the giant bell that lives inside the Palace of Westminster’s clock tower.
The foundry, one of only two bell foundry’s left in the UK, also cast the bells for Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral, and the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, which was used to assemble the public around the first reading of the Declaration of Independence Act in 1776.
In more recent times the foundry manufactured the bell used at the start of the 2012 London Olympics, and it made the bells featured on the lead barge for the Queen’s jubilee pageant held on the Thames.
The Guinness Book of Records recognises the foundry, which has been in business for 446 years, as Britain’s oldest manufacturer. The foundry was established in 1570 during the reign of Elizabeth I, it then relocated to Whitechapel Road in 1738, and has traded from the building ever since.
The bulk of the foundry’s business now comes from the sale of hand bells and doorbells which you can purchase from their website.
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