Today we visited the Whitechapel Bell Foundry to collect some sample bells for a project we are currently working on in the area. Sadly it was the foundry's last working day on Whitechapel road, the address which the company has occupied since 1738.
We learnt that the Whitechapel Bell Foundry is the UK’s oldest manufacturing company having been established in the Whitechapel area since 1570. Sadly the premises are due to close in the next two weeks due to a lack of patronage and the company will be relocating to pastures new. The last batch of tower bells were cast in the current historic Grade II listed building on 22 March 2017 and the shop is slowly beginning to pack up ready for the move.
Interestingly, the most famous bell ever cast at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry was in fact for Big Ben at the Palace of Westminster, which was cast on Saturday 10 April 1858. At 9'-0" diameter, 7'-6" high, and weighing in at 13½ tons. The hour bell for Big Ben remains the largest bell ever cast at Whitechapel and to this day, a cross-section of the bell surrounds the entrance door to the Foundry (see pictures left).
We are looking to showcase over 300 miniature bells from the Whitechapel Bell Foundry within each of the bedrooms of a hotel in the local area, a nod to the culture and history of the hotel's surrounding neighbourhood. We will be testing out ideas like this over the next few weeks, along with a range of contemporary artworks also inspired by the area of Whitechapel and its rich history.