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Whitechapel Bell Foundry

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Record Status - Reviewed Site Record

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Site ID :- GTL00021
Key Words :- Bell Foundry
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Address :- 34 Whitechapel Road, London, Greater London, E1 1DY
Grid Reference :- TQ 3422 8156
Grid Co-ordinates :- Easting 534220 m, Northing 181560 m
Lat & Long (WGS84) :- 51.517024 , -0.066996
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Site Location :-
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Parish or Township :-
Administrative Area :- Tower Hamlets
Pre 1974 County :- London
Site Status :- Listed - Grade II*
Site Condition :- Site disused - but otherwise substantially intact
Historic England List No - 1357529,
Site Era :-Industrial Revolution 1750-1850 to Modern Post 1950
Site Dates :- 1738 - 2017
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Contributor :- GLIAS Database - 2 June 2018
Contributors Society :- Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society
Copyright :- cc-by-nc-sa 4.0 © GLIAS Database

Record Status :- Reviewed
Reviewed By :- Andrew Turner - 12 January 2021


Description and History

Important site. Bells cast here since 1738 when firm moved from across road where they had been since 1583 when Robert Mot moved works from Aldgate. Present buildings, 3-storey block with attractive shop front, 32-34 Whitechapel Rd, with workshops and foundry behind, C18th and C19th. Of special interest are old hand lathe and C18th wall crane in Fieldgate St. Among famous bells cast here are Big Ben, Big Tom and the Liberty Bell.

Whitechapel Bell Foundry's long history spans the reigns of twenty seven English monarchs, and among the royal visitors to the foundry were King George V and Queen Mary who came to witness the casting of two bells for Westminster Abbey. The Foundry buildings date from 1670, four years after the Great Fire of London, and presumably replaced earlier structures lost to that conflagration. Originally built as a coaching inn called the Artichoke, the lease of the buildings was acquired by Thomas Lester - then Master Founder at Whitechapel - to accommodate the need for extra workshops and space during a time of great expansion in the craft of bellfounding. The business moved there from the north side of Whitechapel Road, and has remained on the site ever since, withstanding the ravages of war and development. The foundry closed in June 2017.

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