Campaigners chime in on Whitechapel Bell Foundry closure


Large bells in the Foundry. Pic: Whitechapel Bell Foundry

Plans to transform the Whitechapel Bell Foundry into a ‘mixed-use arts and production facility’ and boutique hotel have met with opposition from campaigners.

The United Kingdom Historic Building Preservation Trust (UKHBPT) has raised concerns about the proposal and launched a campaign to try to stop the plans from going ahead.

In a report titled ‘Saved by the bell’ the independent charity (which is under the founding patronage of the Prince of Wales) intends to purchase and reopen the site on Whitechapel Road as a fully functioning foundry.

Nigel Taylor, former Tower Bell Production Manager at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, said that although the charity would need to “totally re-equip the premises” it would be an opportunity to modernise the foundry with up to date equipment.

The current plan which is under consideration by Tower Hamlets council, would transform the Grade II listed building, which forged Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell and Big Ben, into a 108-room hotel, artist space and workshop.

Church Bell Foundry. Pic: Whitechapple Bell Foundry 

US developer Raycliffe submitted proposals to Tower Hamlets Council last week. Raycliffe bought the premises in 2017 from fourth-generation foundry owner Alan Hughes and his wife Kathryn after declining demand for church bells and rising costs forced the foundry to close its doors.

If given the go ahead, the scheme would see £7 million invested in ‘light touch’ renovation work to the historic site, while the back building, which was built in the 1980s would be completely redeveloped.

The Whitechapel Bell Foundry dates back to the 16th century and had operated on the site since 1738.

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