This morning’s reading should consist of a reading of the account by Nigel Taylor, the senior foundry man at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, of its closure (http://spitalfieldslife.com/2019/02/10/nigel-taylor-tower-bell-production-manager/). The Hughes, who owned it, had run out of the will to keep it going: the market for church bells is precarious; Whitechapel was not the easiest place to run an industrial operation; they were of retirement age; and their daughters did not want to take it on; so they accepted a very generous offer (said to be £5.1 million) from a local east end property developer on condition that they didn’t tell anyone until the sale had been completed. So, it was only after the sale that any of the historical agencies (Historic England, SPAB, HLF) were able to try to save it, which was arguably too late, because by then it had been sold on to Bippy Siegal, a New York venture capitalist for £7.9 million.
So, what is to be done ? In order for it to be turned into a hotel, which is what Siegal wants, Tower Hamlets has to allow change of use. In order to allow change of use, Siegal has to demonstrate that it can no longer operate as a bell foundry.
What Nigel Taylor perfectly demonstrates is that it can and should. There are two existing foundries happy and able to take it on as a foundry.
So, it will be scandalous if Tower Hamlets allows change of use and scandalous, too, that Historic England has not come out in public to object.