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Next stage of project to save UK’s last major bellfoundry in Britain

The Saving the Last Major Bellfoundry in Britain Project is entering its next stage as it invites main contractors to tender for a programme of capital works to protect and enhance Loughborough Bellfoundry’s Grade II* Listed buildings and museum, funded by several generous donors and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. 

The Loughborough Bellfoundry – which is in the centre of the Leicestershire town – is also known as John Taylor’s Bellfoundry and is the last major bellfoundry in the UK and Commonwealth. 

More than 25,000 bells, which can be heard in more than 100 countries, have been cast there since the present bellfoundry was built in 1859, from London’s St Paul’s Cathedral to Washington National Cathedral in the US capital, and from the National Carillon in Canberra, Australia to Cape Town City Hall in South Africa. 

In 2016, the Loughborough Bellfoundry Trust was set up to begin the project of restoring the bellfoundry’s buildings, redeveloping the site’s museum and protecting the bellfoundry and the ancient craft of bell making for generations to come. 

Plans for the comprehensive restoration of the Victorian site have been drawn up by a team lead by Caroe Architecture Limited and the Loughborough Bellfoundry Trust is now inviting tenders from main contractors to deliver the project.

Works are expected to begin later this year and complete towards the end of 2023. 

The programme of works will include reconfiguration of the buildings’ archive room, office spaces and workshop facilities, as well as the creation of a new entrance into the historic site.  

The museum will be improved and enhanced by increasing its footprint to incorporate additional exhibition space and room for an administration office. 

Chrissie Van Mierlo, museum director at the Loughborough Bellfoundry Trust, said: “We are incredibly pleased and excited to have issued our invitation to tender on this project. The works are going to preserve and protect these historic and important buildings for years to come and provide a wonderful place for people to visit and learn about the highly specialised craftsmanship that the process of bellfounding entails.  

“Our vision is for Loughborough Bellfoundry to become the global centre for the art of bell making and learning. We have been very fortunate to have benefitted from funding over the years to address the most urgent repair and conservation works required, and we’re thrilled to be in a position to enter the next stage of this project to secure the legacy of the Bellfoundry’s bells for future generations.” www.loughboroughbellfoundry.org