Our friends over in Britain are racing to save the last remaining bell foundry in the U.K., the birthplace of the bells in the Cathedral carillon that were forged in the 1960s.

John Taylor & Co. has been forging bells since 1859, including the 53 bells of the carillon in the Central Tower, installed in 1963. The 64-ton carillon functions kind of like a piano, except each note is connected to a separate bell.

The smallest bell at the Cathedral carillon weighs 17 pounds, and the heaviest weighs 12 tons and measures more than eight feet in diameter.

Starting in 2016, the Loughborough Bellfoundry Trust has been working to preserve the Taylor bell factory that has produced more than 25,000 bells around the world. The project aims to repair the casting hall where bells are made, improve access for visitors and overhaul the on-site museum, among other goals.

Taylor is the last remaining bell foundry in England following the demise of Whitechapel foundry in 2017; Whitechapel cast the Cathedral’s 10 peal bells, which are above the carillon and are rung on ropes by teams of volunteers.

LEARN MORE: Go deep into the peal bells and carillon in our Points of Interest section

According to local media reports in the UK:

Phase one of the work, now underway, includes the stripping out of the existing museum, removing internal walls – which were added to the bellfoundry in the 1980s – and replacing the leaking roof. A new lift is under construction, as are new disabled and baby changing toilets. An activity room will be created in the old Victorian laboratory, and the museum displays improved.

There will be two main spaces for visitors to explore, including a ground floor timeline detailing the history of both the bellfoundry and the art of bellfounding, and the Patternmaker’s Gallery, in the original patternmaking workshop, which will display a series of objects that have been recovered from the foundry. Visitors will have the opportunity to touch and handle objects throughout the venue.

You can hear both the carillon and the peal bells most weekends; Carillonneur Edward Nassor offers a Saturday afternoon recital and a prelude to the 11:15 Sunday service, and the Washington Ringing Society typically rings the peal bells at the end of Sunday services. 


Kevin Eckstrom

Chief Public Affairs Officer

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