I woke up this morning to the news that the Whitechapel Bell Foundry was for sale. I suppose this was inevitable. COVID has changed the economics of development. I can’t help noticing that there are now a vast number of new hotels round Aldgate, including a new Hilton in the Minories, a big new hotel at the bottom of Brick Lane, and a new hotel right opposite the Bell Foundry in Whitechapel Road. The development proposed depended on acquiring the adjacent site, but the option on its sale has now lapsed. So here we are at the beginning of the next phase of trying to preserve it.
I hope the heritage authorities will now come together to help save it. The great irony is that Re:Form and Factum Foundation had an entirely credible, fully costed, alternative plan to preserve it as a working foundry which has now morphed into the London Bell Foundry which is successfully making bells with artists. Let’s hope that Historic England and the National Heritage Lottery Fund can join up to support this plan. The fabric of the Foundry is still in good order. Some of the original equipment survives (ironically some of it was bought by the developer). So, it ought to be possible to reinstate the Foundry as was, its historic fabric reasonably intact. Alan Baxter has drawn up conservation plans.
The battle for its preservation begins again.