Whitechapel Bell Foundry
- Nearest Public Transport:
Mon-Fri 9:00 - 16:30
Recommended Reviews for Whitechapel Bell Foundry
4 reviews in English
Review from Ben W.
- 4 friends
It is a widely held assumption that central London is now devoid of manufacturing and the skilled workers that were once so critical in the city's evolution. And I don't blame people for holding this opinion, I did myself. The City is now the home of the pinstripe suit rather than the messy overall.
But there is one last bastion of skilled craftmanship, a family business that has survived rising land prices, the seemingly ever-growing service sector and exportation of manufacturing to faraway lands.
Located a short walk from Aldgate East tube station, not hidden but understated, is the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. Established in 1570 the family-run business has moved several times but occupied the current site since 1738.
Now, in an era of digital watches, phones and iPods you might think bells are in short demand. And to an extent you would be right. But how many bell foundries do you know?
Whitechapel Bell Foundry has over the years created Big Ben and the Liberty Bell, and is now the business responsible for the Jubilee Bells which will lead the procession of boats in the Jubilee flotilla. This place has pedigree and history in abundance.
We attended one of the tours last Saturday morning. Our guide was the entertaining and charming owner, and if Michael Caine is searching for a long-lost brother we can direct him to Whitechapel. The dry sense of humour and cutting but friendly retorts to questions are as informative as they are entertaining.
The tour takes in and explains the bell-making process and how the foundry, whilst embracing modern techniques, still manufactures bells mainly using centuries-old traditional methods.
The whole tour was fascinating, and, for those who hark back to the good old days, provided a living glimpse into London's industrial past.
Review from Jason E.
It's worth stopping in here if you are walking past, they have improved the exhibits and it's all very interesting. You can book a tour for the foundry itself on a Saturday in advance, but go in anyway. It's Britains oldest manufacturer. The first bells were cast here in 1420 and it is the last survivor of all the smelly old industries on the east side of London that once included tanneries, gunmakers, breweries and slaughterhouses.
You can even buy a little bell here, actually, if you own a church or a tower, you can buy a very big bell here. The biggest bell they have ever cast is Big Ben at 13.5 tonnes and I'm sure they'd make you one of these if you have the need.
Review from Alice S.
- 0 friends
Situated on one of the busiest, most stressful roads in East London, the Whitechapel Bell Foundry is located in a beautiful historical workshop. For a fee of £10 ( a bit steep in my opinion), you can go inside and tour to see where the Liberty bell and Big Ben were originally cast.
The small museum is free but a bit pointless if you don't pay to get into see the two bells.
Review from Qype User (phanto…)
- 16 friends
- Qype User phanto…
A fascinating working historical bell foundry, well worth a visit. There is a small museum, with displays of bells, including info on its most famous products, the Liberty Bell and Big Ben.
They do guided tours, but you need to book. Living History. You can buy a bell in the shop, but remember, craftsmanship is pricey!