Whitechapel casting 27-ton Olympics bell today

Update (Mar21Tu): Public Radio International’s The World broadcast a story quoting Alan Hughes:

Laura Lynch: “You’re having quite a year here, there’s a project that you’re not allowed to say very much about but there is another project.”

Alan Hughes: “Well there is this thing called the Olympic Games which has to be somewhere and where better than London and if it’s gonna be London, where better than the East End, which is the greatest part of London. I mean we’re in the East End so it has to be the greatest part of London. And in fact the Olympic site is only five miles from here. So yeah we’re providing a bell for the Olympics which is incredible. And no I can’t say much about it, but we are incredibly excited.”

Update (Feb05Su):  The current issue of The Ringing World is quoted as saying

Due to contractual obligations to its customer, the Whitechapel Bell Foundry was not able to comment on the project to The Ringing World, but Kathryn Hughes did say ‘Of course we are all very excited about it’.

Some articles give the bell’s weight as 23 tons rather than 27, and give dimensions 2 meters tall and 3 meters in diameter, for example this one from Jan27.

Update (Jan30Mo):  There is some discussion on the Web of whether Whitechapel has the capacity to cast a bell of 27 tons weight, and some assertions within the last hour or so that the casting will be done on the continent at a larger foundry, perhaps an industrial one [Jan30 6:54pm, Jan30 6:17pm].  Whitechapel has no mention of the bell on its web site at this writing.

Whitechapel Bell Foundry. The left set of templates hanging on the wall were used to cast Big Ben.

It is reported that Whitechapel Bell Foundry is casting a 27-ton bell today  (Jan27Fr) for the London Olympics [BBC story].  It is said it will be Europe’s largest bell and is to be hung in the Olympic Stadium.  Its inscription, from Shakespeare’s The Tempest Act III Scene 2 line 148, is to be

Be not afeard, the isle is full of noises

The largest bell Whitechapel has cast to date was the Great Bell of Westminster (“Big Ben”) in 1858, about half as large at 13-odd tons, and taking twenty days to solidify and cool.  It was transported on a horse-drawn trolley across London (map).  13-odd to 27 tons is a big increase to take in one step.

In addition, the organizers have invited ringers to ring every church bell in the UK for three minutes starting at 8am Fr 27 Jul 2012, to constitute a performance of conceptual artist Martin Creed’s “Work No.1197: All the bells in a country rung as quickly and as loudly as possible for three minutes” [London 2012 Festival posting].

This will be at 3am Miami time, an hour when bellringing in Miami would probably not be well-received.  Otherwise the Miami tower might well ring in synchronous support of this tremendous ringing.  We are considering ringing with the bells muffled, or (if we get the simulator wired up by then) on the simulator.

Update (Jan30Mo):  We have since learned that the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers is not supporting Creed’s plan, describing it as “misconceived” [BBC 2011Nov09], and some ringers (including ourselves) have noted that despite Creed’s instructions, change ringing bells can be rung only within a small range of speeds and at one loudness [BBC Jan11].


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  1. Pingback: PRI story on Whitechapel | miamibells

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