The bells arrived in Singapore and were installed in time to ring in the 200th anniversary of the 1819 Singapore Treaty on 9 August. The Singapore Treaty is a British trading treaty by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles that established the foundation of a trading port for the British East India Company.
The Loughborough Bellfoundry, which has created bells for cathedrals, churches and secular buildings in more than 100 countries, previously cast a set of eight bells for St Andrew’s Cathedral in 1888. Six of the original bells were brought back to Loughborough last year for conservation work and seven new bells have been cast to complete the harmonically tuned set requested by St Andrew’s. The largest bell of the set measures 54" across its mouth and weighs just under one and a half tons.
The team at John Taylor’s has been working on the bells for St Andrew’s for about six months.
Andrew Wilby, a member of the Loughborough Bellfoundry Trust, said: “From casting to tuning, creating a bell is an immense and painstaking process, with experts meticulously undertaking each unique step pioneered by John Taylor’s.
“The Loughborough Bellfoundry is the home of bell founding and the only major working vestige in the country that creates bells for thousands of buildings around the world like Singapore Cathedral. This privilege has allowed the wonderful art of English change-ringing to spread all over the world and is why John Taylor’s bells can be heard by hundreds of millions of people across the globe.
“It’s wonderful to think that bells made in Loughborough are now in place in Singapore and have been used to mark this special celebration, and it’s a fitting tribute to the trade heritage between Britain and Singapore.”
Located in the heart of Loughborough, Leicestershire, the Loughborough Bellfoundry is the last major bellfoundry in the UK and Commonwealth. More than 25,000 bells have been cast since the present bellfoundry was built in 1859 and its bells can be heard all around the world, 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.
The National Lottery Heritage Fund recently awarded the Loughborough Bellfoundry Trust, owner of the bellfoundry, nearly £300,000 of Development Phase funding to allow it to work up detailed proposals for its two Grade II* listed buildings that are in urgent need of repairs. The project is also being supported by the Architectural Heritage Fund, which has pledged £30,000.
Without urgent repairs and a sustainable plan for the future, the bellfoundry could be lost forever. To avoid the considerable loss of traditional craftmanship and seismic impact on historic buildings around the world, the team behind the restoration project is seeking £1 million from members of the public and any organisation wishing to help secure the bellfoundry’s future for generations to come.
If you would like to donate to save Britain’s last bellfoundry, please visit: www.loughboroughbellfoundry.org.