Whitechapel Bell Foundry (41)

I am immeasurably grateful to one of my blog followers who has supplied me with the relevant information about the television film made in 1977 about the Whitechapel Bell Foundry:-

In the Making: Bells 

first tx: 8 June 1977, 23 mins

part of a series of 13 films made for Jubilee Year

the film editor was the great Allan Tyrer (who edited Civilisation)

film cameraman Derek Banks

producer Anne James

series producer John Read

There was apparently another significant programme made by the BBC at the foundry in 1951.

The Festival Bell

first tx: 4 April 1951

This was a 45-minute live outside broadcast from the foundry to watch the Festival Bell being cast; only 1 minute of related footage apparently exists. It was shot on 35mm film, presumably alongside the live outside broadcast.

The foundry has also been featured in at least five radio features:

John Snagge’s London, 24 October 1976, Radio London

It’s Just Like Playing with Sand, 26 December 1980, Radio 4

The Peterborough Bells, 14 December 1986, Radio 4

Between the Ears, 14 November 2004, Radio 3

The Bell Boys, 3 November 2009, Radio 4

All of this information is absolutely invaluable, not just because it makes it potentially relatively straightforward to reconstruct the look and feel of the Bell Foundry as it was, but also because it demonstrates how important the Bell Foundry has been in national life: part of the Festival of Britain; celebrated during the Silver Jubilee; the subject of repeated study and celebration on the radio and television.

Historic England has taken the view that it is just another workshop which can be turned into another boutique hotel (do we really need another boutique hotel ?), not of sufficiently obvious architectural significance to be worth preserving. But it is the workshop which made the bells of Big Ben. It is the workshop which rang in the Festival of Britain. It is a set of workshops which John Summerson described as ‘the most remarkable group of its kind in London’.

Are we really going to allow it to be destroyed ?

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2 thoughts on “Whitechapel Bell Foundry (41)

  1. marinavaizey says:

    The very last thing we need is more hotels; and what is so remarkable about th FOUNDRY is that it is a WORKING part of the heritage not a dead depository, a library etc like a museum or a mausoleum,……and that is so rare.

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