Saving the last major bell foundry in Britain

A £8.4m bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund is the key to securing the long-term future of the John Taylor Bell Foundry in Loughborough.

The only purpose built Victorian bell foundry in the UK, possibly even the world, is in dire straights. The buildings are Grade II*-listed and date back from 1859 but have fallen into a state of decay and feature on Historic England's "At Risk" Register. The Loughborough Bell Foundry Trust, established in 2016, have already secured two small grants from Historic England to deliver a series of urgent repairs on 2016 and 2017, but further repair is required to ensure the building can be given a new lease of life.

The Trust along with staff at John Taylor & Co (the bell foundry) have been working on proposals over the last 18 months for the future of the site that can enhance commercial operation, attract more visitors and increase awareness and understanding of the importance of the bell foundry. The proposals include creating a new archive; restoring the carillon and its tower, the first in the world to be harmonically tuned; upgrading facilities to provide a new ringing centre; and delivering comprehensive repairs and sensitive restoration of the two large listed buildings that make up the bell foundry.

The proposals were submitted to the HLF at the end of last year, and they are now considering the application with a decision due to be made next month. If they are successful, the Trust will receive £8.4m for the restoration of this important historic site.

To find out more about the project, read the Trust's press release here. Photo credit: Tom Pengilley.

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