Whitechapel Bell Foundry (25)

Even in Anglesey I fret, as the year comes to an end, on the fate of the Bell Foundry.

I have been helped by Charles O’Brien, the chairman of the London Advisory Committee (and, by an odd coincidence, the author of the entry on the Bell Foundry in the revised edition of Pevsner’s London East) to see that it was difficult for Historic England to intervene at the time the Bell Foundry was sold, since it was sold behind their back with no request for help.

But this does not answer the core question. What advice did they take on whether or not the Bell Foundry could be maintained as a bell foundry before they permitted (and, indeed, have encouraged) a change-of-use, as they were legally required to do ? Did they seek advice from other foundries as to whether there were ways and means of making the Bell Foundry economically viable ? Did they pay attention to the new markets for bells opening up in China ? Or did they take the word of the Hughes family only that a Bell Foundry was no longer economically viable ?

If, as is hoped, Robert Jenrick calls the planning decision in for review, this would give an opportunity for a more forensic legal examination of what advice Historic England received and sought on the opportunities for maintaining the operation intact before taking the golden shilling of a New York venture capitalist and not merely allowing, but supporting, it being turned instead into a boutique hotel.

Happy New Year !


6 thoughts on “Whitechapel Bell Foundry (25)

  1. All those are very good, pointed questions. To which the developers have no good answers. You have, as always, been even handed but tenacious. Well done.
    Itwould be ironic if the Foundry is allowed to disappear at the very moment when there seems to be a new, international market opening up, if the developers had the nous to recognise it.

  2. Jane de Sausmarez says:

    Dear Charles
    Every time there is a blog from you about the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, I open it with fear and trepidation! I see that fingers crossed scenario continues.
    Thank you for keeping all your followers up to date and for all your efforts to save the Foundry.
    A very Happy New Year to you too.

  3. TIMOTHY HILL says:

    I may have missed this information. However, I am unable to find any business plan or financial projections which relate to the “rescue scheme” ( UKHBT and Factum)
    On the face of the information provided, at least £16m will require to be raised if Raycliff will negotiate or the Council will invoke a CPO. Both courses seem problematical.
    A joint venture with Raycliff could be quite an acceptable solution to all parties.
    I support this project and the the use of the Foundry for manufacturing and academic purposes.

    • This is an interesting comment. Raycliff are said to have paid £7.9M for the property based on a presumption that it could be redeveloped as a hotel. As a Foundry only, its market value would be less. As I understand it, UKHBPT would be willing to buy the property off Raycliff at market value and then would itself raise the (substantial) funds to redevelop it. This would be the best possible solution.

      • TIMOTHY HILL says:

        Thank you
        The amount of money required to be raised is substantial.
        Were the site to be divided / re arranged, both sides may achieve their objectives at reduced cost to the rescuers. Raycliff may also welcome some plaudits instead of odium.

      • Yes, this had crossed my mind, too – if Tower Hamlets were to allow them to build higher on the adjacent hotel site, maybe they would consider abandoning the demolition of the 1970s extension and the use of the historic part of the Foundry as a café/bar, providing a beneficial compromise on both sides. Charles

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