Oldest manufacturing business in Britain, the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, is up for sale

Sun, 04 Dec 2016 | BUSINESS SALE

The oldest manufacturing company in Britain, The Whitechapel Bell Foundry, has been put up for sale by its owner Alan Hughes. The foundry started business in 1570, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the daughter of Henry VIII.

The foundry has made many of the famous bells of the world, including Big Ben and the bells of St Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. It also cast the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia which became a symbol for campaigners wanting to abolish slavery in the United States.

Mr Hughes, whose Grandfather bought the business in 1904 has said he hoped to have found a buyer by the time he retires in May 2017 when he will have to vacate the building. The Whitechapel-based Grade II listed property in which the business has resided since 1738 has been sold already.

"The Bell Foundry in Whitechapel has changed hands many times, but it has always been a family business.” Mr Hughes told local community website Spitalfields Life.

"My own family has owned the foundry since 1904, but other families have run the firm throughout its history.”

“We have made this decision with a heavy heart, but in response to the changing realities of running a business of this kind”.

"We hope that this move will provide an opportunity for the business to move forward in a new direction."

All current contracts will be delivered but no new business will be taken on until the future of the firm is decided upon.

Alan Hughes’ wife Kathryn has confirmed that negotiations are underway with potential purchasers for the business which she is hopeful will continue in a new location.


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