Whitechapel Bell Foundry (14)

There was a good, but perhaps too brief, discussion of the issues surrounding the development of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry on Front Row tonight, beginning with the sounds of some of the most famous bells cast in Whitechapel, including St. Mary-le-Bow, St. Clement Dane, Westminster Abbey and Big Ben.

Gillian Darley and Stephen Clarke made the case for keeping it as a working foundry instead of turning it into (another) luxury hotel, based on the model of the transformation and successful renovation of Middleport Pottery, which has been such a success: keeping it as a business, introducing new technology, keeping changes to the building to a minimum, opening up new markets in China, and encouraging school and public visits.

As Gillian said, it’s an issue for cultural heritage, not just built heritage, and Historic England can’t say it’s not their mandate because it’s what they did so successfully in Middleport.



2 thoughts on “Whitechapel Bell Foundry (14)

  1. Ben P says:

    If we think also about other listed buildings, blue plaques, etc … so many of these are for what went on in the building, who might have lived there, etc.. and yet this somehow doesn’t apply to the Bell Foundry??

    • Yes, that’s a good point. Historic England seems to have adopted an unusually and, luckily, uncharacteristically hardline stance vis-à-vis the Bell Foundry. After all, the whole move is architectural history for the last thirty years has been away from considering buildings in terms of their design towards an interest in long-term changes in use and how buildings express these changes.

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