City of London and the UK’s oldest company support Tower Hamlets’ city status bid

Tower Hamlets is already trying to ring in the changes as it has enlisted the support of its neigbouring borough and the UK’s oldest manufacturing company in its bid for city status.

The council has gained support from both the Lord Mayor of London, Michael Bear, the City of London’s chief citizen, and the founding family at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. The council already had the support of the Tower of London and Canary Wharf Group.

Mr Bear is reported to have expressed his enthusiam, to Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman, at the prospect of the borough completing a continuous ‘city’ chain running through the heart of London, encompassing Westminster and the City of London.

Established in Whitechapel in 1570 the bell foundry has created some of the world’s most famous bells, including Big Ben and the original bell cast for the State House in Philadelphia in 1752 which later became known as the “Liberty Bell” —the symbol of American Independence.

Master Founder at the bell foundry, Alan Hughes, said: “We see this as a proper recognition of the contributions the East End has made to the cultural, artistic, engineering and manufacturing history and traditions of this country.”


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Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman said the support of a business with such a wealth of history as the Foundry “is much appreciated”.

“The Whitechapel Bell Foundry is a wonderful symbol of our rich heritage and the ongoing importance of Tower Hamlets as a place of industry, trade and migration,” Mr Rahman said.

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Tower Hamlets is bidding for city status as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012. It is up against 20 other boroughs including Middlesbrough, Blackpool, Reading and another London borough Croydon.

The bell foundry on Whitechapel Road has been at the heart of Royal celebrations for many years. Westminster Abbey is the foundry’s oldest customer and two bells cast in 1583, and heard by Elizabeth I during her reign, are still in use there today.

Another set of bells cast at the foundry in 1971 for Westminster Abbey were heard during the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Whitechapel’s bells will once again take centre stage during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations when a peal of bells, shortly to be cast at the foundry, will be rung on the Herald barge leading the Queen on her Jubilee River pageant down the Thames.

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