Whitechapel Bell Foundry update: Building trust seeks urgent deal with owners to save buildings and business

21 March 2017

Whitechapel Bell Foundry update: Building trust seeks urgent deal with owners to save buildings and business

In a letter published in The Times today, a Trustee of the UK Heritage Building Preservation Trust (UKHBPT) makes an open request to the owners of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry to defer the current sale and auction, set to take place in April. The letter states that this would enable an alternative model to be assembled which would save the foundry for the nation.

This news comes as over 5,000 people have signed a petition to save the bell foundry since it launched three days ago on the 18 March. Click here to sign the petition.

The buildings are currently in the process of being sold to a developer and the business is set to be moved to sites elsewhere. An auction of the contents of the foundry is scheduled to take place on 6 April.

The letter by UKHBPT trustee Stephen Clarke states: 

‘Further to the letters of March 15 & 16 on Whitechapel Bell Foundry, I made an approach to the owner to explore the possibility of acquiring the business and the assets at market value, thus saving them for the nation. All the archives, fixtures and fittings would be retained in their original place.

‘My proposal would be similar to that adopted by UKHBPT in the saving of Middleport Pottery, the oldest continuously working china factory in the UK, in Stoke a few years ago. This created jobs, helped to regenerate a community and now attracts 40,000 visitors a year.  Middleport Pottery is also the home of the BBC's The Great Pottery Throw Down.

‘Opportunities to retain heritage buildings and their original businesses for the nation are exceedingly rare.  Middleport Pottery and Whitechapel Bell Foundry are two such examples, hence my open request to the owner to defer the current sale and auction for a few months to enable myself and others bring forward a solution similar to that achieved at Middleport.'

SAVE, The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB), The Ancient Monuments Society, The Georgian Group, The Council for British Archaeology, Survey of London, The East End Preservation Society and The Spitalfields Trust are also appealing to Historic England to list the buildings at Grade I to ensure they are given the highest protection possible and the national and international recognition they deserve.

Bells have been made continuously in Whitechapel since the 1570s. The business has been on its present site since the mid 1740s. It is one of just two remaining bell foundries in Britain, and the foundry is reportedly the oldest manufacturing company in the UK. This is the foundry that made Big Ben in 1858, the world-famous US Liberty Bell and many many more.

Note to editors:

1. For more information please contact SAVE on 0207 253 3500 or office@savebritainsheritage.org

2. SAVE Britain’s Heritage has been campaigning for historic buildings since its formation in 1975 by a group of architectural historians, writers, journalists and planners. It is a strong, independent voice in conservation, free to respond rapidly to emergencies and to speak out loud for the historic built environment.

Press release issued by SAVE Britain’s Heritage
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Registered Charity 269129
Tel. 020 7253 3500  Email office@savebritainsheritage.org
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