I admit, it has a traffic system and traffic straight from the jaws of Armageddon, but nevertheless it’s not hard to imagine yourself back in Victorian times. As commercial and residential development continues to spread out from the City, so the fortunes of Whitechapel have risen and it is becoming a desirable area in which to live. This wasn't always the case, however.
The company has been in continuous business here since 1570 and the line of Master Founder can be traced back in the area to the year 1420, in the reign of Henry V. The premises are now designated as Grade II listed buildings, and as such may not be altered in any way. Thus the frontage remains unchanged on a very busy East London road amongst many modern buildings.
Famous bells cast here include the original Liberty Bell (1752), the Great Bell of Montreal and probably best known of all, Big Ben at the Palace of Westminster. This bell was cast in 1858, the largest bell ever cast here and weighing 13.5 tons.
Now, I wouldn’t presume to get involved in a ‘who cracked the Liberty Bell?’ debate, but the foundry re established its connection with the Liberty Bell in 1976, the US Bi Centennial.
It was then that a group of about thirty or so 'demonstrators' from the Procrastinators Society of America mounted a mock protest over the bell's defects and marched up and down outside the Foundry with placards proclaiming WE GOT A LEMON and WHAT ABOUT THE WARRANTY?.
With true English understatement, the Master Founder told them he would be happy to replace the bell - as long as it was returned in its original packaging…..
Most pleasingly, Whitechapel was also commissioned to cast the 12,446lb Bicentennial Bell that year, which now resides in Philadelphia with its illustrious predecessor and which bears the inscription:
FOR THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Into this wretched stew in August 1888 came Jack the Ripper when he butchered his first victim, Mary Anne Nichols, in Hanbury Street which, like the sites of all of the murders, is no more than ten minutes walk from the foundry.
Almost certainly, foundry employees would all have been questioned by the police during their door-to-door enquiries, as were all residents of the area.
Also the Ripper, whoever he may have been, clearly knew the area well and would almost certainly have walked past the foundry on his way to or from several of his murders.