Director of Whitechapel Bell Foundry finds it hard “to let go” of Olympic ceremony bell

The lady who designed the giant bell, rung to kick off Danny Boyle’s Olympic show, was both trilled and sad to see it in the opening ceremony.

Katryn Hughes, co-director of Whitechapel Bell Foundry, sat down like millions of people round the world at home to watch the opening ceremony on TV last Friday.

Ms Hughes has been working on the bell with her husband and co-director Alan since September when their foundry on Whitechapel Road won the contract to design the world’s largest harmonically tuned bell.

She said: “We knew it would be rung to open the ceremony and that Paul McCartney would be performing under it. But we didn’t know it was going to be in almost every TV shot forming a backdrop to the ceremony, which was thrilling for us.

“But it was also really sad because we have been working on it for months and it was hard to let go of the bell.”

The bell was so huge it would not fit through their workshop’s doors and had to be cast in Holland.

But Ms Hughes was on site supervising as it was hung at the Olympic Stadium back in May.

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She said: “It was designed as the biggest bell that would fit through the athletes’ tunnel, so there was only a few inches to spare when it arrived by truck.

“Even though it is an enormous bell it looked quite small inside the stadium.”

The Olympic cauldron has now been moved to where the bell stood.

Ms Hughes said the bell has been “hidden” somewhere while the stadium is prepared for athletes, and that they have no idea what plans Olympic organisers have for it.

“I suggested it could be placed outside our workshop,” she joked.

A spokeswoman for Locog said: “The bell is being stored in a safe place. The intention is that it will be in the Olympic Park in legacy.”

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