An exciting new future for the Whitechapel Bell Foundry that celebrates its history and architecture
Raycliff, the owner of the former Bell Foundry buildings, is working with a heritage-led design team to deliver an exciting new and sustainable future for the site which celebrates and retains the architectural and historical significance of the Grade II* listed foundry building on the Whitechapel Road.
** January 2019 update **
EXPERIENCED PARTNERSHIP READY TO DELIVER EXCITING, CREATIVE VISION FOR THE HISTORIC WHITECHAPEL BELL FOUNDRY
An expert team of, architects, heritage experts, founders and creative industries have come together to breathe new life into the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, creating an exciting cultural landmark in London’s East End.
The Whitechapel Bell Foundry was founded around 1570 and operated on the Whitechapel site continuously from 1747 to 2017. During this time, it was responsible for the creation of some of the world’s most famous bells, including Big Ben and the original Liberty Bell
The new plans include the continuation of founding, boosting local established businesses and supporting the existing bell and art founding industry, including the existing Whitechapel Bells business, which now operates out of different sites. Affordable, artist studios and maker uses and space for small creative businesses are also to be located across the historic building.
A significant part of the Historic Foundry will be transformed into a publicly accessible space, allowing visitors and the local community to experience the atmosphere and energy of the spectacular foundry spaces, which will retain their unique character, through the reintroduction of many original artefacts.
A partnership has been formed with the Westley Group – one of the largest and most successful industrial founding companies in the UK, who currently produce the Whitechapel Tower Bells under licence from The Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd. This historic link is supported by a local Tower Hamlets business with an international reputation – AB Fine Art Foundry, based in Poplar and one of Europe’s leading fine art foundries – who will cast on site and will provide expertise, teaching and training for a whole new generation of apprentices and crafts people.
The plans for the Historic Foundry will deliver:
- A reinstated, viable foundry with art casting and ongoing production of bells in an environmentally sustainable way. The works produced will be for sale to the general public through visiting the building or online.
- Educational facilities for all ages to visit and learn about the Whitechapel Bell Foundry and its global impact. Dedicated space will be provided for school groups.
- A public café which will welcome all members of the community. A new glazed screen will separate the café space from the working foundry – an opportunity to watch bells being made whilst having a coffee or eating lunch.
Alongside the foundry, artists and makers will be accommodated on site, managed by another local business and workspace provider, Anatole Notes – who have a site based in Bethnal Green. In association with Studiomakers, they are introducing affordable workshops and creative flexible work-space for small East End businesses. Whitechapel Gallery has held two recent exhibitions on the site with another planned for February 2019. Further discussions are being held about how this partnership can continue and develop, in support of the next generation of local talent.
At the rear of the site, currently occupied by a non-listed 1980s industrial shed and a car park, a new hotel will be developed, providing local jobs and delivering a boost to the Whitechapel economy. The hotel is not located in any parts of the Historic Foundry. Part of the car park site also already has planning permission for a hotel.
Publicly accessible restaurants and bars will be provided on the lower floors. The community will be able to use the area to socialise and have informal business meetings. An ongoing programme of artistic events, talks and exhibitions related to the past and future site activity are also planned within these spaces.
Bippy Siegal of Raycliff, the owners of the site, commented:
“We are delighted that our plans for the Whitechapel Bell Foundry have evolved in such a positive way. It promises a great future for this historic place. We all feel a strong responsibility to deliver a plan that sustains these amazing buildings and that continues the atmosphere of craft and creation that held in the foundry for so many years.
It is fantastic that some of the brightest and most accomplished companies involved in founding, arts and the creative industries will be partnering with us to create a new cultural landmark for the East End.”
Tom Westley, the Chairman of the Westley Group and Past National President of The Institute of Cast Metals Engineers, the professional institute for foundry workers, added:
“We have a long history with the Whitechapel Bell Foundry and are still producing bells under license from the Hughes family, so we are delighted to be involved in this exciting new future. Our involvement reflects our passion for education; we want to use this opportunity to train a new generation of apprentices in the art of founding.”
Jerry Hughes of AB Fine Art Foundry said:
“There is no doubt that this is one of the most exciting cultural projects in London. It is an amazing opportunity to build on the East End’s enviable reputation for the creative industries.”
Will Lunn of Anatole Studios added:
“As a local studio provider, we see daily the incredible artistic talent in this part of London coming under pressure. Spaces for artists to grow, learn, and promote their work are at a premium and this project will give us a chance to provide young emerging artists with that opportunity close to one of the world’s most important arts institutions, the Whitechapel Gallery.”
Yves Blais of Studiomakers, Outset Contemporary Art Fund said:
“London’s vibrancy comes from a history of making and culture of creativity that other global cities can only strive for. To innovate and create, our artists, designers and craftspeople need studios and other workspaces in the heart of the city. By ensuring that they are able to find genuinely affordable workspaces like at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry – already steeped in an iconic history of making – will ensure this culture continues and is sure to inspire generations to come”.
Please view the FAQs for more information on the proposed uses of the site.
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If you would like to be involved in the consultation or have any questions in the meantime, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0800 298 704.