Construction works are now underway at Taylor’s Bellfoundry in Loughborough, to update the Grade II* Listed Bellfoundry buildings and onsite museum.
Contractors will now work alongside architects Caroe, who drew up plans to restore the Victorian site, and exhibition designers Redman Design.
The first phase of the programme of works, now underway, includes stripping out the existing museum, removing internal walls – which were added to the bellfoundry in the 1980s.
A new lift is currently under construction as are new disabled and baby changing toilets. Major repairs to the roof over the bellfoundry’s main covered yard are also underway.
The museum’s footprint is to be increased to incorporate an activity room, and the museum’s displays are to be updated.
On the ground floor will be a timeline detailing the history of both the bellfoundry and the art of bellfounding. The museum’s Patternmaker’s Gallery, will display a series of objects that have been recovered from existing foundry spaces, located in the original patternmaking workshop.
Funded in part by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Loughborough Town Deal, the project is being led by the Loughborough Bellfoundry Trust, in partnership with the historic bellfounding firm of John Taylor and Company.
John Taylor’s Bellfoundry, also known as Taylor’s Bellfoundry or simply Taylor’s, is the last major bellfoundry in the UK and Commonwealth.
Phase two of the project, is set for 2024, which will see the restoration of the original entrance to the site, and the relandscaping of the Carillon Courtyard which visitors access on arrival.
Bellfoundry museum director Dr Chrissie Van Mierlo said: “Our vision has always been to create a place where people of all ages can visit and learn about the craftmanship and art of bell making, as well as the history of the Loughborough site.
“Not only will the project allow us to welcome more visitors into the site, but it will also create additional volunteering opportunities for local residents. Our volunteers are the life and soul of the bellfoundry and we wouldn’t be able to do what we do without them.”