Whitechapel Bell Foundry (4)

I have been fascinated by the extraordinary amount of ill feeling which has been generated by the decision of Historic England to throw in its lot with the plans of a New York venture capitalist to turn the Bell Foundry into an ersatz hotel, rather than help and support the plans of the United Kingdom Historic Building Trust to revive it as a working foundry.

Historic England claims that no money has so far passed hands, but it was drawn in at an early stage to give advice on the developer’s proposals and having given advice, it was presumably difficult for them not to support what was planned, however much it butchers what survives.

Let me quote, as it happens, Historic England’s own description of the historic interest of the site: ‘for the national cultural and industrial significance as the mid C18 site of a specialised industry known to have been located elsewhere in Whitechapel since the medieval period, where well-known bells including Big Ben and the Liberty Bell, Philadelphia, were cast’.

And on its architectural interest: ‘a distinctive, cohesive complex of domestic and industrial buildings spanning nearly 300 years of occupation including the dignified residence of the foundry owner at nos 32-34 Whitechapel Road, no 2 Fieldgate Street and the industrial ranges to the rear’.

If these were the reasons for listing the property, are they not also the reasons for making efforts to preserve it intact as a working foundry, not demolish half of it and turn the rest into a bogus tourist attraction ?


8 thoughts on “Whitechapel Bell Foundry (4)

  1. Jane de Sausmarez says:

    Here, here Charles!
    Every time you write about the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, I open your blog in a state of angst incase all is lost. So pleased that you have been sticking your neck out about it. Let’s hope yours and every one else’s complaints have an effect.

  2. J Jacobs says:

    Things were bent out of shape when English Heritage / Historic England started to factor in the ‘economic benefit’ of a scheme when giving advice. In 2002 the new EH head was recognised as having a new ‘pro-developer stance’. (Property Week 4 October 2002)

  3. EH should be ashamed of itself. For it to cite ‘economic benefit’ ia a nonsense when it, of all bodies, should be solely concerned with the historic, cultural issues.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s