World’s Oldest Foundry Set to Close Doors!
After 596 years in business, Whitechapel Bell Foundry will be shutting its doors this May. Known for casting our Liberty Bell, as well as the UK’s Big Ben, Whitechapel’s business stretches back to the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. The foundry started in 1570 has been at its current site for over 250 years.
With both the business and building put up for sale, Alan Hughes whose great-great-grandfather purchased the business in 1884 told local news website Spitafields Life “We will complete work on all projects presently in hand during the coming months but will not be entering into new contracts for the time being while discussions of the company’s staff and other interested parties regarding the future direction, ownership, and location of the company are ongoing.”
“We are just commencing work on a new peal of bells for St Albans after 43 years of negotiation. That’s an example of the timescale we are working on — at least 10 years between order and delivery is normal.” Hughes said after announcing the sale of the property.
“We have made this decision with a heavy heart, but in response to the changing realities of running a business of this kind. The business has been at its present site over 250 years so it is probably about time it moved once again. We hope that this move will provide an opportunity for the business to move forward in a new direction.”
On Whitechapel Road in London, it is free to visit and tour the site. The interior design stays true to its 17th century hay day. Weighing over 13 tons, the mold used for Big Ben still hangs on the wall, the largest bell cast by the foundry. For safety reasons, the foundry is sectioned off.