THE last remaining bell foundry in Britain which can cast full rings of bells faces closure unless it can raise £4.7 million to restore and update its Grade II* buildings.
The Loughborough Bell Foundry, in Leicestershire, which dates from 1859, has cast more than 25,000 bells for churches in more than 100 countries, from St Paul’s Cathedral, in London, to the National Cathedral in Washington, DC, and the National Carillon in Canberra, Australia. Since the closure, two years ago, of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, in east London, it is the only remaining site in Britain large enough to cast, repair, and rehang full rings of bells for cathedrals, churches, and other buildings.
Ten years ago, the works, also known as Taylor’s Bell Foundry, were rescued from administration; and, in April 2016, the Loughborough Bellfoundry Trust was established to secure its future. Now, the trust is seeking funds for urgent repairs and a sustainable plan for the future. It hopes to win a £3.7-million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, but must first raise £1 million in matched funding.
A trustee of the Loughborough Bellfoundry Trust, Andrew Wilby, said: “Loughborough Bell Foundry is the only working vestige in the country of an ancient industry that creates bells for thousands of buildings around the world. At least 20 million people in Britain and hundreds of millions worldwide hear a Taylor bell every day, with generations experiencing a ring of Taylor bells to mark significant events such as weddings, funerals, and moments of national importance.
“Our vision is for Loughborough Bell Foundry to become the global centre for the art of bell-making and learning, and to secure the legacy of its bells to make sure future generations on every continent can be brought together by a ‘ring of Taylor bells’. We have been very fortunate to have benefited from funding from Historic England over the last few years to address the most urgent repairs, but we need to take our efforts to the next level and secure the site once and for all.
“Without this funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the buildings would continue to deteriorate, and could lead to closure for good. We have already lost one bell foundry within the last two years — let’s not lose the last.”