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Caroe triumphs in Loughborough bell foundry competition

John Taylor Bellfoundry, Loughborough
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Caroe Architecture has won a contest for a major overhaul of the Loughborough Bellfoundry Trust’s Grade II*-listed headquarters

The Cambridge and London-based practice was chosen from an undisclosed shortlist of rival firms to win the estimated £631,357 design contract.

The practice will now restore the historic Freehold Street complex which is home to the world’s oldest working bell foundry, dating back to 1839, and a museum.

The £3.7 million project will conserve and upgrade the Victorian factory, which is known as John Taylor & Co and traces its bell founding origins back to the 14th century.

Practice co-founder Oliver Caroe said: ‘The project is at a key stage of the mission to restore and sustain the bell foundry, and we will relish the conservation challenge. It’s also about the creative journey to sustain all that is marvellous about the historic foundry, as well as fashioning new life and access to the craft for people who want to learn and get involved.

‘We would like, at the end of the project, for people to exclaim, “This is Taylors as we have always known it, but better,” and for visitors to Loughborough to want to return and spread the word. The vision for the plans will be a blend of respect to the history and heritage of the foundry and the bell founding craft, with a celebration of the potential opportunities for new people.’

John Taylor & Co is thought to be the world’s largest working bell foundry and the most significant still operating in Britain. Bells manufactured at the plant include the largest bell cast in Britain: Great Paul at St Paul’s Cathedral in London.

Currently, the complex is only open to pre-booked tours. The latest project will restore the decaying buildings and create new improved visitor facilities.

The winning multidisciplinary team includes Focus Consultants as project manager, Morton Partnership as conservation engineers, CBG Consultants as services engineers, PLB as exhibition designers, IDACS as access consultants, IFC as fire consultants, Philip Waller Consulting as CDM advisors, and Salus as approved inspectors.

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