Before it closed in June of 2017, Whitechapel Bell Foundry was Britain’s oldest single-purpose industrial building and, perhaps, the most famous bell foundry in the world.
Founded in 1570 and at its Whitechapel location since 1738, the foundry cast Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell, The Great Bell of Westminster, also known as Big Ben, and countless other bells that still ring across the globe.
This Guy Fox TV video takes us behind the scenes at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry to see how they made these enduring bells. The young narrator follows the artisans, including longtime employee Nigel Taylor, through the mold-making and bell-casting processes. Then the bell’s shape is refined and tuned to perfection.
Why did the foundry close? The primary causes were modern society’s declining need for bells paired with East London’s rising rents. From The Guardian:
“The problem with bells, from the perspective of those who make them, is that they last too long. In Westminster Abbey, there are two bells that were cast by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in 1583, and there is still nothing wrong with them. It’s difficult to think of something more basic or imperishable than a heavy piece of bronze.”
Per Londonist, the last bell cast at the foundry was given to the Museum of London.
Watch this video about bells next: How bells are made at the Royal Eijsbouts bell foundry.
Plus: Inside the Elizabeth Tower and Big Ben’s Restoration.
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