LivingTravelWhitechapel Bell Foundry

Whitechapel Bell Foundry

The Whitechapel Bell Foundry made the Big Ben bell for the Houses of Parliament and the original Liberty Bell. They have a free museum that you can visit Monday through Friday for more information.

Sobre Whitechapel Bell Foundry

Whitechapel Bell Foundry is Britain’s oldest manufacturing company, having been established in 1570, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. They still produce bells and accessories and have a shop, next to the lobby museum, with some bells handheld, music and other products.

They use a lot of traditional skills along with modern technology and you can walk around the side of the building and see the foundry in action. There are weekend casting tours, but they are incredibly popular and you may have to book up to a year in advance.

I have been on a casting tour and can highly recommend it. I booked six months in advance when the following year’s tour dates were posted, so this requires advance planning. The Foundry Manager led a group of about 30 people around the buildings and explained the manufacturing processes in an informative but witty style. (“I employ three men to make mud pies and two men to make sand castles.”)

I found out why industrial manufacturing industries were always in the east of cities: due to the prevailing west wind that kept smells out of the city, and was surprised to find that there is no mold and therefore each bell is unique .

The skilled foundry workforce has unusual jobs and many remain for their entire working lives. The foundry’s motto is: “Nothing is impossible for the man who does not have to do it himself.”

Famous bells

The Whitechapel Bell foundry has produced bells for many churches and cathedrals around the world, but the two most famous bells I associate them with are the original Liberty Bell from 1752 and Big Ben, which was cast in 1858 and the bells. of the Great Westminster Clock first. It rang on May 31, 1859. Two months later, the bell broke when struck and was too heavy a hammer. The hammer was changed and the crack is still there and it hasn’t gotten worse over the years so everything is fine.

Big Ben is the bell of the hour in the middle and there are also quarter bells. Big Ben’s official name is the Big Bell, but no one calls it that.

Big Ben is still the biggest bell they have ever made. Today, their business is 75% of church and tower bells and almost 25% of hand bells. Hoods are not cheap, but they are built to last and should be maintenance free for 150 years and should last 1,000 years.

The museum

The Whitechapel Bell Foundry museum is in its lobby, is open Monday through Friday and is free to visit. I found the staff very welcoming. They were happy to explain more about the exhibits and were happy that I was able to walk around on my own as well.

There are newspaper clippings, video footage, paper records, honors and awards, there is so much to see. Look for the full-size Big Ben bell template above the door on the inside. Wow, it’s great!

Visitor information

Address: 32/34 Whitechapel Road, London E1 1DY

Phone: 020 7247 2599

Museum opening hours: Monday to Friday from 9 am to 4.15 pm

Official Website:

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