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Taylors Bell Foundry, Foundry Building, Freehold Street, Loughborough (Grade II*)

Geo: 52.7730, -1.1985
Date ListedWed 1st September, 2010
CategoryStatutory Listed Building
AddressTaylors Bell Foundry - Foundry Building Freehold Street Loughborough LE11 1AR
GradeGrade II*
Grid ReferenceSK5414519810
WardLoughborough Hastings

NOTE: Previously listed Grade II on 24 December 1985
Foundry, forming part of a bell manufactory and incorporating a hand bell foundry, girder store and a site museum, c.1874 with later alterations and additions. The museum dates to 1985.
MATERIALS: Red brick laid to English bond, with blue brick dressings. Welsh slate and corrugated asbestos roof coverings.
PLAN: L-shaped plan with the main foundry hall aligned east-west, with extensions to the rear gable. To the south, on the street frontage, a small enclosed yard and the girder store.
EXTERIOR: The main foundry hall range faces Freehold Street and is set back from the street frontage behind a tall arch-headed double doorway. The foundry hall is a tall single storied building of 5 bays to Freehold Street, measuring 100 x 40 ft. It has stepped buttresses between window openings and 4 chimneys to the former side wall furnaces. The rear elevation is of 7 bays and, like the street elevation has multi-pane cast iron windows with blue brick arched heads to the openings. The eaves have moulded brick and dentilled detailing and there is a full length ridge louvre. At the east end, the gable has an arch headed window to the apex and a chimney to the south-east corner. Extending from the gable is the main drying oven with a shallow pitched roof, and to the north of this, the taller hand bell foundry with two gable stacks, the wider of the two bearing a painted sign which reads ‘TAYLOR BELL FOUNDERS'. The hand bell foundry has 3 tall windows with multi-pane cast iron window frames to the north wall. To the left of this range is a lower 3-window range with similar windows and a Welsh slate roof covering and, to the right, is a 2-storey range with a moulded brick eaves and a corrugated asbestos roof. On its ground floor, facing Freehold Street, is a tall 24-pane window. The fenestration to the left-hand side is irregular, whilst on the right-hand side, facing Cobden Street, are two 30-pane windows with cambered brick heads and a double doorway. To the rear of this range and attached to it by a brick wall and gateway with C20 steel gates is a further tall single storey range with a moulded brick eaves. This has a Welsh slate roof covering and coped gables. A double doorway faces Cobden Street. The rear of the main range is similar to the front with one window blocked and various blocked openings below the other windows.
INTERIOR: The main casting hall of the bellfoundry is a single working area, with the smaller handbell foundry and the main drying oven for bell moulds at its east end. The roof is carried on lightweight strutted metal trusses dating to 1927, and there is a metal viewing gallery, installed in 1985, built across the tall segmental arch-headed double doorway in the west gable. In the north side wall are the mouths of the original foundry reverbatory furnaces set within semi-circular arch-headed recesses. The furnace chambers are now enclosed as part of the museum area beyond the north wall of the foundry hall. Within the hall is a C20 travelling crane carried on steel beams supported by brick piers integral to the side walls. On the south side of the foundry hall are the two free standing C20 furnaces currently used for the melting of bell metal. The smaller handbell foundry is located at the east end of the casting hall, and has small crucible furnaces at its east end, and plain fixed timber work benching beneath the windows to the north side wall. To the south of this area is the main drying oven with a large framed and braced door to enclose it.
HISTORY : The Taylor family, originally bell founders in St. Neots and elsewhere, came to Loughborough in 1839. In 1858 J.W.Taylor bought this site and began new foundry buildings. An engraved letterhead of pre-1886 shows the building as similar in appearance to those existing at present including that part on the east side of Cobden Street (qv), with three stacks. The business prospered and is reported to have been at one time the largest bell foundry in the world. Taylor's cast bells for St Paul's Cathedral, London, including in 1881 'Great Paul', the largest bell in the former British Empire and the largest properly rung bell in the world. The moulds for this bell survive in the rear yard to the handbell foundry. Bells and carillons have been exported from this foundry to all parts of the former Empire, the USA, and Holland. It is the only operational purpose-built bell foundry in England, and one of only two bell foundries remaining in the country. Forms a group with that part of Taylor's Bellfoundry to the west side of Cobden Street (q.v.).
SOURCES : The Architectural History Practice. 'Taylor's Bellfoundry', Loughborough'. Unpublished report, November 2009. The complex of buildings on the east side of Cobden Street Loughborough forming part of Taylor's Bellfoundry is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE: The bellfoundry complex is representative of a specialised form of metal working which has its origins in the medieval period, and relates to a very important element in the rituals of worship and the national consciousness.
ARCHITECTURAL INTEREST: The buildings which make up the site are representative of all stages of the site's evolution throughout the C19, and include the original foundry furnaces now incorporated into the museum which now forms part of the complex.
RARITY: The buildings form part of the only purpose-built bellfoundry in England and of one of the country's two operational bellfoundries.
COMPLETENESS: This part of the foundry site, together with the part to the west side of Cobden Street, form a manufacturing complex in which all stages of bell manufacture, from bell mould making to bell tuning are represented.
FIXTURES AND FITTINGS: The buildings which make up the foundry complex on both sides of Cobden Street retain fixtures, fittings and machinery used in the casting, shaping and finishing of bells. Some machine tools are specific to the manufacture of bells and were designed for use in Taylor's bellfoundry where they remain in situ, as originally installed.
GROUP VALUE: The complex has strong group value with its companion on the western side of Cobden Street.

The description above describes the salient features of the building as it was at the date of listing. It is given in order to aid identification; it is not intended to be either comprehensive or exclusive.

Statutory Listing covers all parts of the property and its curtilage, ie all internal and external elements whether described or not.

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