Coronavirus silences last remaining major bell foundry in UK

Craftsmen casting bells at Taylors Bell Foundry before it had to close its doors © Tom Pengilley

When in the spring of 2020 the strange hush fell over Britain, the skies and the roads virtually emptied of traffic, and the bustle stilled in the streets, one other element almost disappeared from the soundscape of everyday life: the bells of thousands of churches and public buildings. A few with mechanical hammers still rang, but most were silenced, no longer marking weddings, funerals or the passing days.

Across the world, bells are special: they have names, inscriptions and histories, and are installed with blessings or special ceremonies. They were so missed that the announcement that Canterbury Cathedrals great Bell Harry would ring out over Easter made national news.

In Loughborough, Leicestershire, even the towns magnificent carillon, a war memorial for which Edgar Elgar composed a work in 1923, has lost its voice. All its 47 bells, along with those for thousands of churches, including the 17-tonne Great Paul for St Pauls Cathedral in London, were cast by a famous local firm, John Taylors Bell Foundry.

Loughborough bells are spread across most Commonwealth countries, as well as the US. One of the most recent, a 6ft, five-tonne giant, was flown 10,000 miles by the Royal Australian Air Force to Canberra, just before the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis put an end to international flights. It joins 57 Loughborough bells in the National Carillon—originally a 1970 gift from the UK to Australia.

The operation is now as silent as the bells, thanks to the coronavirus, the machinery meticulously cleaned and oiled before the workers locked the doors and left

Since the closure in 2017 of the much older Whitechapel bell foundry in East London, Taylors, dating from 1859, has been the last remaining major bell foundry in the UK. It was rescued from administration in 2009 and is now a tenant of the charitable Loughborough Bellfoundry Trust, which owns the site and had just launched a fundraising campaign to safeguard the foundrys future, restore its decaying Victorian buildings and create a new museum on the history not just of Taylors but of bells in Britain. The operation is now as silent as the bells, thanks to the coronavirus, the machinery meticulously cleaned and oiled before the wRead More – Source