‘Let the Whitechapel Foundry bells ring forth!’ urges London Mayoral candidate Rory Stewart

Photo of Rory Stewart by kind permission of Andrew Baker

Whitechapel residents were stunned to meet a principled politician with the ability to lead earlier this week when Rory Stewart, independent candidate for Mayor of London, turned up to declare his support to save The Whitechapel Bell Foundry.

Casting bells since the 1500s

Bells have been made continuously in Whitechapel since the 1570s, the current business has been on its present site in Whitechapel Road since the mid 1740s.

The Whitechapel Bell Foundry made Big Ben in 1858 and many more bells including Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell, a famous symbol of American independence, in 1752.

The Whitechapel Bell Foundry is one of just two remaining bell foundries in Britain, and is reportedly the oldest manufacturing company in the UK.

Whatever a boutique hotel is we don’t want one

Problem is that someone wants to convert the bell foundry into a ’boutique hotel’ – whatever that is – and a fundamental part of our history will be wiped from the map of the East End of London.

Sign the petition to save Whitechapel Bell Foundry

Local residents led by the East End Preservation Society have been fighting to stop this and have organised a petition amongst other activities.

True to form Tower Hamlets Council has demonstrated a complete lack of leadership on this important issue, instead trotting out the usual ‘ooh we can’t do anything because of the planning laws’ line.

‘A challenge of courage and imagination’

In complete contrast to this independent Mayoral candidate Rory Stewart turned up to support the campaign while on his famous walk around London. This is what Rory said.

“All of this in one of the most interesting parts of our city – so an imaginative planner, in fact anyone with any imagination seeing the possibilities here, could not possibly turn this down. This is a challenge of courage, it’s a challenge of joyful imagination and of adventure, and we need to let the bells ring forth!”

Inspiring stuff, huh?

Holding order issued by government

Fortunately for the foundry last week Secretary of State Robert Jenrick issued a Holding Order preventing Tower Hamlets Council proceeding with granting permission for change of use to the developers who want to turn the foundry into a hotel.

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