Find out more about the “Saving the Last Major Bellfoundry in Britain” project by exploring our Frequently Asked Questions.
The National Lottery Heritage Fund, formerly the Heritage Lottery Fund, was established in 1994 to distribute funds raised by National Lottery players. Since its inception, the NLHF has distributed more than £8 billion to over 44,000 heritage projects across the UK. The broad aim of all NLHF-funded projects is to make a lasting impact for heritage, people, and communities.
The Loughborough Bellfoundry project is part of the NHLF’s “Heritage Enterprise” process, which offers grants from £250,000 up to £5 million. The Heritage Enterprise scheme is for projects that seek to achieve economic growth by investing in heritage. It is aimed at enterprising community organisations and commercial organisations working in partnership with community organisations to help them rescue neglected historic buildings, returning them to productive use.
It was announced in October 2018 that the Loughborough Bellfoundry Trust had received initial National Lottery support for the restoration of the historic Taylor’s bellfoundry in Loughborough. Since receiving that Round 1 pass, the project team has spent more than a year undertaking research and consultation to submit a significantly more advanced bid to Round 2 of the NLHF’s Heritage Enterprise scheme in September 2020.
If the project is successful at Round 2, it is proposed that physical works will begin at the start of 2022, delivering a refurbished site and museum by the end of 2023. Alongside the physical works, a programme of activities will run from the end of 2020 through to the project’s conclusion in 2024.
Taylor’s is the last major bellfoundry in Britain, a vestige of an ancient industry that creates bells for thousands of buildings around the world. The bellfoundry in Loughborough is one of only a small number of Victorian factories still being used for its original purpose and retains many unique architectural features associated with British manufacturing in the middle of the nineteenth century. Not only is the fabric of the building itself unique, but the bellfoundry contains important examples of machinery and other equipment. It is also home to the complete company archive for historic bellfounders John Taylor and Co. and the largest collection of bell-related artefacts in the country.
The building is currently on the Historic England “Heritage at Risk” register and is Grade II* Listed by Historic England. To put this into a broader context, there are around 370,000 “Listed” Buildings in England but only 5.5% of these are in the Grade II* category, recognised as particularly important buildings of more than special interest.
Given the rare nature of the bellfoundry site, it is vital that urgent action is taken to ensure its conservation for future generations.
As part of the initial application to the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the project team prepared an initial Activity statement. The inclusion of an Activity Statement is a requirement of the NLHF bidding process. The statement comprises a programme of activities that are designed to engage and educate a wide variety of people about heritage. It is hoped that this in turn ensures that heritage is better understood and protected in the future.
An Activity Statement complements the physical work being undertaken and helps to ensure that the legacy of NLHF investment goes beyond stand alone buildings. It should include a range of opportunities for local people and organisations to get involved in heritage through education, training, and leisure activities.
In the past year we have been hard at work developing a fun, engaging and diverse Activity Statement to accompany our project. If you are a local educator or a member of a community group or business who would like to get involved, please contact our Education Officer Chrissie Van Mierlo.
The “Saving the Last Major Bellfoundry in Britain” project is led by LBT Trustees along with a project Core Team and Staff and Volunteers from the LBT. Overall project coordination is in the hands of Ingham Pinnock Associates who have been involved in the conservation of the site for more than five years. They helped set up and grow the Trust, building a successful relationship with Historic England, who invested in the most urgent repairs.
Caroe Architecture were appointed in the summer of 2019 to lead a multi-disciplinary team which includes architects, structural engineers, services engineers, quantity surveyors, interpretation designers, access specialists and fire consultants. Since then they have been developing the exciting proposals to repair the valuable Grade II* Listed Buildings and introduce new facilities. The project will put the bellfoundry premises into much better condition and will introduce great new facilities to encourage everybody to visit, to learn about bells, and to see the craftsmen and women at work.
The project Core Team further comprises representatives from Ginger Root Design and Jennie Holland, who have helped us to promote the project and the work of the Trust locally, nationally, and internationally.