Plans unveiled for historic Whitechapel Bell Foundry

GV of Whitechapel Bell foundry

GV of Whitechapel Bell foundry - Credit: Archant

Plans for the historic bell foundry where Big Ben was made have been unveiled.

The main foundry space showing public. Picture: 31/44 Architects

The main foundry space showing public. Picture: 31/44 Architects - Credit: Archant

The designs for the Whitechapel Bell Foundry on the corner of Fieldgate Street and Whitechapel Road were revealed on Monday.

The bell making workshop was founded in 1570 and operated from Whitechapel from 1747 until 2017 when the last bell was cast.

The premises were sold to the current owners, the New York based investment firm Raycliff.

Public consultations on the future of the Grade II*-listed building were held in June and September last year.

Café space, work space and studios will sit alongside the Foundry's original features. Picture: 31/4

Café space, work space and studios will sit alongside the Foundry's original features. Picture: 31/44 Architects - Credit: Archant

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Raycliff owner Bippy Siegal said: “We all feel a strong responsibility to deliver a plan which sustains these amazing buildings and continues the atmosphere of craft and creation held in the foundry for so many years.

“It is fantastic that some of the 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.”

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“We are delighted our plans have evolved in such a positive way. It promises a great future for this historic place.”

Under the plans small businesses will be based on site along with a cafe, artists’ studios and space to train craftsmen and women in metalworking.

The metal casting firm, Westley Group, has teamed up with the Poplar based business AB Fine Art to form an on-site foundry selling bells to visitors.

Tom Westley, Westley Group chairman and former national president of the Institute of Cast Metals Engineers, said: “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.”

Jerry Hughes of AB Fine Art Foundry said: “This is an amazing opportunity to build on the East End’s enviable reputation for the creative industries.”

A boutique hotel is planned for the back of the site where a shed which isn’t listed and car park currently sit.

A section of the car park already has planning permission for a hotel.

The plans could go before Tower Hamlets Council’s planning committee in the spring.

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