Whitechapel Bell Foundry (2)

One of the benefits of the application to Tower Hamlets for a change-of-use of the Bell Foundry (as if it is not possible to maintain it as a bell foundry) is that the accompanying documentation contains a wealth of information, especially the Heritage Staement prepared by Alan Baxter, the conservation specialists.

The Whitechapel Bell Foundry is (or was) not any old foundry, but cast the Liberty Bell in 1752, the bells for Montreal Cathedral in 1843, Big Ben in 1858 (what could be more historically resonant than Big Ben?), and the Bell of Hope presented by the City of London to New York in memory of 9/11.

Historic England have given (paid) advice to the new owners on what they regard as a creative change-of-use from a working foundry into (another) ersatz wine bar. They think of the building solely in architectural terms, as a Grade 2 listed building, and claim that this is all they are allowed to do. But it is (or at least was until very recently) one of the most remarkable and well-preserved pieces of historical archaeology. Surely they, of all people, should be fighting to preserve it.


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