Whitechapel Bell Foundry: an update (21 February 2019)

Whitechapel foundry east
Albert Turpin (1900-64), The Whitechapel Bell Foundry seen from the east

Since the publication for consultation of the planning application PA/19/00008/A1, the Spitalfields Life blog by the Gentle Author has published two further posts which afford illuminating and complementary views of the work, until 2017, of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, and provide strong arguments – helpful for those who will object in writing to the building’s conversion into a ‘boutique hotel’ – for its continuance as a foundry:

‘Nigel Taylor, Tower Bell Production Manager’ (11 February 2019) is an interview with Nigel Taylor, who worked at the foundry for forty years, from 1976 until it closed in 2017, managing all aspects of making, casting and tuning bells for the last twenty years. He explains why the foundry closed and twenty-five jobs were lost. As adviser to the scheme, proposed by the UK Historic Building Preservation Trust and Factum Arte, to reopen the foundry, re-equipped for twenty-first century, he presents a strong case that the foundry can have a viable and sustainable future.

‘Benjamin Kipling, Bell Tuner’ (11 February 2019) is an interview with Benjamin Kipling, formerly Bell Tuner at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, in which he gives a revealing account of the techniques used in bell tuning, both at Whitechapel and elsewhere.

From Big Ben to the Liberty Bell: the archives of Whitechapel Bell Foundry (Archives for London Seminar at the London Metropolitan Archives)

On Wednesday 23 January 2019, Archives for London presented an evening seminar in which Richard Wiltshire (Senior Archivist for Business Archives at the London Metropolitan Archives), who supervised the acquisition by the LMA of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry archive in 2017, together with two LMA colleagues, gave a detailed account of the process of transferring the foundry records to the archive, and of initial conservation and investigation. In preparation for the firm’s move, London Metropolitan Archives worked closely with the company to safeguard its rich business archives. The records are now safely deposited at LMA. A cataloguing project began on 19 November 2018 with the arrival of a dedicated project intern. Plans to provide access to the collection, the most recent parts of which will be subject to the approval of Alan & Kathryn Hughes, the last owners of the company, were outlined.