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What a clanger—public didn't know Queen was visiting bell foundry

PUBLISHED: 16:45 26 March 2009 | UPDATED: 14:14 05 October 2010

Queen Elizabeth II watches a bell cast from molten metal during a visit to the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in east London. ... Queen visits east London ... 25-03-2009 ... London ... UK ... PRESS ASSOCIATION photo. Photo credit should read: ADRIAN DENNIS/PA Wire. Unique Reference No. 7049019 ... Picture date: Wednesday March 25, 2009. The Bell Foundry has been producing bells since 1570 and is recognised as Britain's oldest manufacturing company. See PA story ROYAL Queen. Photo credit should read: Adrian Dennis/PA Wire

Queen Elizabeth II watches a bell cast from molten metal during a visit to the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in east London. ... Queen visits east London ... 25-03-2009 ... London ... UK ... PRESS ASSOCIATION photo. Photo credit should read: ADRIAN DENNIS/PA Wire. Unique Reference No. 7049019 ... Picture date: Wednesday March 25, 2009. The Bell Foundry has been producing bells since 1570 and is recognised as Britain's oldest manufacturing company. See PA story ROYAL Queen. Photo credit should read: Adrian Dennis/PA Wire

PA Wire/PA Photos

NOT many people expected the Queen to suddenly turn up in London's East End when the Royal Bentley pulled up outside the Whitechapel bell foundry. But the news spread quickly and within minutes hundreds gathered

ABOVE: The Queen is shown round the foundry by company boss Alan Hughes to meet the workers who cast the famous bells...

BELOW: The Queen is shown the finished product, ready for polishing, before she steps out into the street where hundreds have gathered to see her...

By Else Kvist

NOT many people expected the Queen to suddenly turn up in London’s East End when the Royal Bentley pulled up outside Britain’s oldest manufacturing company.

Just a handful were outside the Whitechapel bell foundry as the Queen and Prince Philip arrived.

But the news spread quickly as they were spotted stepping out of the car and within minutes hundreds gathered.

It was the third stop in yesterday’s Royal tour of East London factories.

BELL PEELING GREETING

They were greeted by Alan Hughes and his wife Kathryn, directors of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry famous for casting the Big Ben bell for the Houses of Parliament and America’s Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. It has been producing big clangers since 1570 and has been in Alan’s family since 1904, the Royals were told.

“It was just like any other tours we do,” Kathryn later told the East London Advertiser.

“We normally stop the manufacturing process, but didn’t this time.”

At one point the Duke remarked: “Gosh, does anyone ring a bell as large as this?”

Alan told him: “My wife does, so I don’t mess with her.”

Prince Philip laughed. The Queen overheard the remark and roared with laughter.

TUNING IN

He asked if the bell tuners ever get it wrong. He was told they did from time to time as he would see from the broken bells in the pot.

But the metal can be melted down again if bell tuners drop a clanger’ and cut off too much during tuning, the Duke was told.

Outside, hundreds were by now lining both sides of the Whitechapel Road to catch a glimpse of the Royal couple as they stepped back into the car.

The crowd only dispersed after the Royals drove off and life returned to normal along the busy the Whitechapel Road as market stallholders began packing up for the day.

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