This morning, The Heritage Crafts Association has published its list of endangered craft practices. Not surprisingly, bell founding is one of them, regarded as ‘critically endangered’. Of course, there is another Foundry at Loughborough as well, but it too is said to be struggling in spite of attracting funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
It is perhaps worth making clear in what way the alternative proposal put forward by Factum Foundation is conceptually different from that of Raycliff, the developers, since the Inspector saw no difference in his report.
Factum Foundation plan to retain the site as a whole, including the 1980s extension, as a working Foundry, continuing to make church bells, but also working with contemporary artists in order to ensure its profitability (this is its core business in Madrid). It also plans to work on the introduction of new, environmentally clean technology in conjunction with the Bartlett.
Raycliff, following criticism of its original hotel plans, now expect to instal a small Foundry into the corner of its ground floor café as a memento of the building’s previous use.
These ideas are conceptually – and practically – totally different. One preserves the Foundry in active use, keeping manufacturing alive in East London, the other treats making things merely as a picturesque curiosity, a funny bit of the old world (actually, twelfth century).
The Inspector expressed scepticism of Factum’s business plan, as if it would already have a full order book. This is surely an unreasonable requirement. It’s a fully functioning and successful business in Madrid. Why should it not be in London ?