34 Whitechapel Rd
London E1 1DY
The Master has arranged for a private tour of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry on the evening of Thursday 26th January. Nearest tube stations: Aldgate East or Whitechapel.
This is a last opportunity for us to visit this famous establishment, as the Hughes family, who have run the business since 1904, will be leaving these premises – where the Foundry has been based since 1739 – in May 2017. Billed as Britain’s oldest continuously running manufacturing company, the Foundry was established in 1570, though evidence suggests it actually cast its first bell in 1420.
Whitechapel’s famous bells include the original Liberty Bell (1752), the Great Bell of Montreal and, probably best known of all, Big Ben at the Palace of Westminster. Cast in 1858, this is the largest bell ever cast at Whitechapel, weighing 13½ tons. To this day, a cross-section of the bell surrounds the entrance door to the Foundry.
We will meet at the Foundry from 5.30 p.m.to ensure a prompt start for the tour at 6.00 p.m. The retail shop will remain open while we gather.
The tour lasts about one and a half hours, and will be followed by drinks and a buffet supper in the adjacent Foundry House, hosted by the Hughes family. The evening will finish between 9.00 and 9.30 p.m, allowing a late train journey home.
The tour involves standing and walking throughout, and seating in the house afterwards is limited, so you need to be prepared to do quite a bit of standing and you should wear ‘sensible’ footwear. The floors in the factory are rather uneven and there are stairs to negotiate both in the works and the house.
The cost per person is £40, inclusive of the tour, supper and drinks. The Foundry and House can accommodate a maximum of 40 people, and bookings will be on a ‘first come, first served’ basis, so you are advised to book quickly