Whitechapel Bell Foundry to close

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Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London, England, one of the most famous foundries in the world, and the oldest in Britain, is set to close in May of 2017, when the current master bellfounder, Alan Hughes, retires. Negotiations are underway for a sale of the business, but it will not remain at the current site. The foundry was established in 1570, although it has existed under various names and in various locations. It has been at its current location in Whitechapel for over two hundred seventy five years, and Hughes is a fourth generation bellfounder, his great-grandfather having taken over the business in 1904.

The famous bells of Big Ben in London were cast at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, as was the Liberty Bell. Many Episcopal churches in the US have Whitechapel bells, most prominently the ring in the upper belfry at the Washington National Cathedral, and Whitechapel bells can be heard all over the world. A listing of places with Whitechapel bells can be found here. More information about the foundry, an interview with Alan Hughes, and beautiful pictures here.

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Ken Albrecht
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Ken Albrecht

In a few years leading up to the Bicentennial, replicas of the lLiberty Bell were offered for sale. The bells were cast at the Whitechapel foundry. I am proud to own one of these bells.

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Jeremy Bates
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Jeremy Bates

From a comment on the Spitalfieldslife article (linked to above):

"I confirm that we have indeed accepted an offer for the premises which we will vacate in May. And I confirm that Alan Hughes has decided to retire. BUT I also confirm that negtiations are in place with potential purchasers for the business of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd which is a completely separate issue from the sale of the premises. We do indeed sincerely hope that these negotiations are allowed to continue and will conclude with a move to new premises for part or parts of the business. We continue to be open."

Signed: "Kathryn Hughes, Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd."

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