Whitechapel Bell Foundry (10)

I apologise for persevering in exploring the issues surrounding the decision to support the demolition of the rear section of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry as being of ‘no architectural or historical interest’.

As I understand it, the Historic Buildings Division of the Greater London Council intervened in the late 1970s, recognising the exceptional architectural and historical importance of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. They provided the Hughes family with funding to build a new extension at the back to keep it as a going industrial concern. There presumably will have been legal conditions attached to this funding, which may not allow its sale and demolition by an American developer.

I hope and assume that someone at Historic England has checked the files, which are held at the London Metropolitan Archives, because they are going to look a tiny bit casual, or negligent, if a great deal of documentation emerges as to how important historians and industrial archaeologists regarded the Bell Foundry in the late 1970s, whereas now the London Advisory Committee apparently supports the idea that part of the existing building can simply be demolished as of ‘no architectural or historical significance’ and the rest of it is turned into a late night drinking parlour in order to facilitate public access.


2 thoughts on “Whitechapel Bell Foundry (10)

  1. dajbyp5jakxomofxor says:

    Sir Charles –
    Thank you for your writings in favor of the rescue of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, and particularly for your persistence in exploring the circumstances regarding the 1970’s-era investigations as to its historical and architectural significance. Your work and that of the Gentle Author of the Spitalfields Life blog are shining a sorely needed spotlight on the murky transactions that leave the Foundry in jeopardy.
    Growing up in Philadelphia, I gained an appreciation of not just the American Liberty Bell, which was made at the Foundry, but of the value of preserving the buildings which serve as our common historical and societal heritage. London’s history of course reaches much further back. I live now in Seattle, where it often feels as if everything was built earlier this week, and the sense of place suffers by the lack of historical perspective. Saving the Foundry as a working concern with centuries of heritage is a vital effort in maintaining that perspective for London. Thank you again for your tireless efforts on behalf of this cause.
    Kathy Z., Seattle WA

    • Dear Kathy, One of the things that I have been incredibly impressed by is the extent to which the issues have resonated internationally: there is something particular about bells – their symbolism, the fact that they were sent from Whitechapel all over the world, the fact that their bells include Big Ben and the Liberty Bell. Historic England seem to have treated it as just a rather boring industrial building, not worth trying to save. They were asleep at the wheel.

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