Whitechapel Bell Foundry (67)

I am posting a formal letter I have just received from Professor Toshio Kusamitsu in Tokyo who has been following the plight of the Bell Foundry from afar. I knew that he was deeply knowledgeable as to what the Bell Foundry represents in terms of its industrial history, but I was moved by the amount of feeling which has gone into his plea to the Inspector to save it at all costs:-

To whom it may concern,

Sir Charles Saumarez Smith has asked me to write to you an appeal for the future of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. I am very happy to express my deep concern about the building of the oldest manufacturing company in Great Britain. Charles has been a very good friend for nearly thirty years and I have been following his blog in order to catch up what’s going on in Britain. Recent posts have been rather discomforting, namely about the future of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. I am a historian of the British Industrial Revolution and received a PhD from Sheffield University which discussed the relationship between crafts and industrialisation. I lived most of my stay in the U.K. in London and three years out of six I lived in Spitalfields in the East End of London. I used to explore in the near by area, and I came across the dignified and a little austere building and admired its historically heavyweight presence. I think that Britain is a country which values and protects the historically important monuments together with the private sector organisations such as the National Trust. I remember during my period in Britain that the Ironbridge Gorge Museums won the Museum of the Year Award in 1977 and the same award went to the Quarry Bank Mill in Styal in 1984. I am stressing this because Britain has been a pioneer of preserving and protecting the heritage of industrial sites and buildings. When I was at the University of Tokyo I took about twenty students on a  tour to industrial and literary places including both the Ironbridge Gorge Museums and Quarry Bank Museums. I am happy to say that the students were very impressed by their histories and in particular the way they were preserved. As a student myself of John Ruskin (I am a councilor of the Ruskin Library in Japan) and William Morris, I am a strong believer in protection and preservation of historical relics and especially important legacy that would teach the future children of their pride in history.

The Whitechapel Bell Foundry is significant historical evidence which will teach us and future people how the history was made, although bell making may be a small-scale industry. But you should listen to the bells ringing at the Big Ben and other places where the products of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry are still living examples of the superb quality. It is my belief and indeed desire that the Whitechapel Bell Foundry should retain its building as a whole and should be retained by the worthy hands to create its manufacturing function as well as museum like facility to those who are interested to observe the process and crafts of British manufacturing industry. I sincerely hope that the strong voice against American company’s ugly redevelopment on the site of Grade II building should be heard and the future of the building would be saved. I ask you to consider that the saving of the historical building would benefit the appreciation from the people in future.

Yours faithfully

Professor Toshio Kusamitsu PhD (Sheffield), FRHistS, Emeritus Professor of the University of Tokyo 


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