Oh dear, a journalist who doesn’t read her own piece

It hadn’t taken long to get to the bottom of it. Nigel Taylor’s wife, Julia, is a tax accountant who spends much of her working day trawling the website of Companies House. Shortly after Hughes had informed his workers in November 2016 that the foundry would be closing, Julia and Nigel Taylor had undertaken some amateur sleuthing. They found that a new company, Whitechapel Bell Limited, had been incorporated that same month. Its registered address led back to the offices of an East End property developer: Vincent Goldstein.

It emerged that in October 2016, Goldstein had agreed to pay Alan Hughes’s company £5.1m for the foundry. But it was never entirely clear what he intended to do with the place. His company is known for turning former industrial spaces into residential and commercial premises in east London. Given the meagre profits reaped from hammering out tower bells, and the large sum he paid for the buildings, it seemed likely that Goldstein would apply for a change of use, perhaps transforming the foundry into flats. (Goldstein declined to be interviewed for this article but sent me a short statement confirming the details of the sale.)

So, the old Whitechapel bell foundry is sold for property development. OK. Yes, even a bit sad after four centuries but still.

For a foundry in London, it was particularly difficult. Rents rose every year,

How do rents rise in a property that is owned?

21 thoughts on “Oh dear, a journalist who doesn’t read her own piece”

  1. Business rates… It is in the People’s Republic of Tower Hamlets after all, which keeps council tax down by ensuring businesses pay for access to the high population density through business rates.
    =
    And the foundry is not climate friendly….. those pesky energy costs are not going down. So why not close and make some money on the property? This was a near inevitable consequence of UK government policy, so why blame the owner?

  2. The Meissen Bison

    Given the meagre profits reaped from hammering out tower bells…

    Odd thing for a foundry to do. Noisy too.

  3. Too long, got bored.

    Premium piece of land near the city. Could have sold up and moved production elsewhere. Like China.

  4. “How do rents rise in a property that is owned? ”

    Wouldn’t that be a variation of the Sunk Cost Fallacy? Would you, today, buy a freehold factory in Whitechapel to make bells? Answer, no because you’d be competing in the purchase price against people who could obtain a higher return on capital using the site for rented residential or office space. Be cheaper to cast your bells in an industrial park up at Edmonton. So why have you got all that capital tied up now? And since you want to make bells & not be a property developer, you flog it to a property developer.
    The underlying reason is the high rents can be charged in the area.
    It was certainly the logic behind why I did a conversion on two Whitechapel buildings a few years back. Originally, they were retail at street level with three floors above of fusty little offices inhabited with what was left of Whitechapel’s original commercial enterprises. Developer thought he could get more out of the site be keeping the retail but converting to luxury flats.

  5. I don’t get it. Why does selling the factory site mean the bell making has to cease, unless the owner of the business can’t be bothered to move all the equipment to a nice easy access industrial park somewhere near a a motorway? Surely its not a case of bell making OR luxury flats, we can have both, just in different locations.

  6. “Surely its not a case of bell making OR luxury flats, we can have both, just in different locations.”

    Jim, The Guardian demands that you stop being so reasonable.

  7. But business rates goes to Whitehall not the Town Hall. Councils only receive (residential) council tax.

  8. “opportunity cost”
    The rent you are not getting from the alternative use of your property is the (economic) cost of using the property the way you are using it.

  9. Dennis, Reminding You That Wogs Always Get To Stupid Faster

    It’s easy to get sentimental about an ugly, dirty old factory building where workers were exploited for centuries.

  10. Most probably can’t be moved as then they would have to meet all the new regulations that they avoid under grandfathering rules for the old site and the cost of building a new fully compliant foundry is too expensive to allow them to run a viable business. I’d imagine a lot of the older equipment would have to be scrapped rather than moved even if moving is possible.

  11. The money must be in repairing cracked bells, if there’s any to be made. How many bells are commissioned each year? Half a dozen, apart from ones fit to hang round cows’ necks?

  12. “Most probably can’t be moved as then they would have to meet all the new regulations that they avoid under grandfathering rules for the old site and the cost of building a new fully compliant foundry is too expensive to allow them to run a viable business.”

    I don’t think there are any ‘grandfathering rights’ available to UK businesses. Just because you’ve been in the same building since the year dot doesn’t excuse you from having to comply with all relevant business regulatory legislation.

  13. I visited the foundary around 15 years ago when it was still active. A dirty filthy place that really should have moved somewhere more suitable long ago. As with some many of these ‘traditional’ industries it seemed to be pitching that using obsolete technology gave the product some mystique.

  14. Given that there were/are 50 or so churches in the City plus those outside, some of which had multiple bells, that’s enough to support a specialist foundry. Now most of the churches are no longer used and the bells are not rung, the rationale has been lost. Was bell-ringing permitted during lockdown?

  15. Was bell-ringing permitted during lockdown?

    No, we managed to ring a few services last summer but there are still so many restrictions we have not yet started again in our village. Of course at every stage every little committee of every tinpot oranisation has to gold plate what it thinks are the rulz.
    http://cccbr.org.uk/Coronavirus/

  16. @ Diogenes
    Not so much the 50 churches in the City, except in the few years after 1666 (and 1945), because a church bell lasts for centuries so there is not much demand for replacements. Most of the demand came from new churches built to accommodate the growth of London as its population grew from a few thousand to nine million.
    The rest of what you say is perceptive and accurate – I agree that there is little need for adding to the stock of church bells: in fact there is quite possibly a surplus of redundant bells from disused churches.

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