Whitechapel Bell Foundry to Become Boutique Hotel

Whitechapel Bell Foundry, Britain’s oldest factory, shut its doors in 2017 and a fight for its future has been raging ever since. The foundry had been casting bronze bells in London since 1570. Big Ben was made there in 1858. The Liberty Bell was made there in 1752. Over the centuries, bells from Whitechapel had made their way all over the world. Some 500 Whitechapel tower bells can be found in Australia, 600 in the US, and at least 900 in Canada.

This last week, after a particularly impassioned public debate, the government approved plans to turn the former foundry into a boutique hotel, ending five centuries of bell making tradition at the site.

Campaigners had been battling to prevent a developer from converting the Grade II listed foundry into a 108-bedroom hotel. While the project was initially given the green light in 2019, the proposal was temporarily blocked to allow further scrutiny and consideration. That pause has now been lifted.

"Having carried out an internal heritage balance, the Secretary of State has concluded that overall, the proposals cause no harm to the significance of the heritage asset," states the letter announcing the decision.

Read more about the foundry closure, sale, and decision to approve the redevelopment plans in a comprehensive article at The Guardian.

Loughborough Bellfoundry, home to historic bellmakers John Taylor & Co., is now Britain’s last surviving major bell maker.