The Bell Tolls for 450-Year-Old Foundry

Dec. 5, 2016
One of the world’s oldest operating metalcasting businesses, indeed one of the oldest manufacturers of any type, will cease operations next spring. Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd., in London, last week it plans to close in May 2017.

Whitechapel Bell Foundry cast the Liberty Bell, Big Ben, and many more bells of note

One of the world’s oldest operating metalcasting businesses, indeed one of the oldest manufacturers of any type, will cease operations next spring. Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd., in London, last week it plans to close in May 2017.

Whitechapel Bell Foundry is as famous for its products — including the Liberty Bell, Big Ben, and bells for St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey — as for its longevity. While it has been in business since 1570, it has operated at its location in the East End of London since 1738.

“We have made this decision with a heavy heart, but in response to the changing realities of running a business of this kind,” owner Alan Hughes said. “The Bell Foundry in Whitechapel has changed hands many times, but it has always been a family business. My own family has owned the foundry since 1904, but other families have run the firm through its history … ”

“The company intends to complete work on all projects presently in hand during the coming months,” according to the posted announcement. “It will not be entering into new contracts for the time being whilst discussions with the company's staff and other interested parties regarding the future direction, ownership, and location of the company are ongoing.”

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