John Taylor & Co

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John Taylor Bell Foundry (Loughborough) Limited
John Taylor & Co
FormerlyTaylors Eayre & Smith Limited (2005–2009)
Founded1784; 239 years ago (1784)
FounderJohn Taylor
HeadquartersLoughborough, England
Key people
Michael Wilby 2019-2021 (MD)
ParentUK Bell Foundries Ltd
SubsidiariesJohn Taylor International

John Taylor Bell Foundry (Loughborough) Limited,[1] trading as John Taylor & Co and commonly known as Taylor's Bell Foundry, Taylor's of Loughborough, or simply Taylor's, is the world's largest working bell foundry. It is located in Loughborough, in the Charnwood borough of Leicestershire, England. The business originated in the 14th century, and the Taylor family took over in 1784.

The company manufactures bells for use in clock towers, rings of bells for change ringing, chimes, and carillons. In 2005, Taylor's merged with Eayre & Smith Limited (bellhangers) and from 2005 until 2009 was known as Taylors Eayre & Smith Limited.[2]

In September 2009, Taylor's went into administration but was bought out of administration by a consortium named UK Bell Foundries Ltd, led by Andrew Wilby, which re-financed the business. Since then, the company has re-established its presence both in the UK and in export markets.

The foundry has a museum of bells and bellfounding, which is the only one of its kind in the UK. It is one of the few Victorian purpose-built manufacturing sites still being used for its original purpose. Its campanile contains the most-pealed bells in the world.[3]


Inside the belfry of St Stephen's Church, Bristol, England. In 1970, Taylor's cast five of the twelve bells and a new frame, in which they re-hung all twelve.

The present company is part of a line of bellfounders dating back to Johannes de Stafford in the 14th century, who was also a mayor of Leicester.[4] The Taylor family became involved in 1784 with Robert Taylor (1759–1830), and a foundry was established in Loughborough in 1839 by his son John Taylor (1797–1858), moving to the current site in 1859. The Taylors also had foundries in Oxford and St Neots between 1786 and 1854.[5]

During much of the later 19th century, the foundry was under the management of John William Taylor (1827–1906). Taylor's was the first bellfounder to adopt "true-harmonic" tuning in the late 19th century.[6] In 1963, Paul Taylor, last of the Taylor family in the business, appeared on the American TV panel show What's My Line?, challenging the panel with his occupation as a bell maker.[7]

The foundry is based in buildings on Freehold Street, which are Grade II* listed.[8][9] The National Twelve Bell Contest is competed for annually by the leading teams in England for "The Taylor Trophy".

On 18 September 2009, the company went into administration.[10][11] Mazars, which had previously been acting as advisors to the company during attempts to secure extra funding, were appointed administrators.[12] On 2 October 2009, it was reported that the administrators were "optimistic about its future."[13] On 15 October 2009, in a statement released by UK Bell Foundries Ltd, a consortium of ringers, members of the bell industry and other investors, it was stated that the foundry would reopen on 19 October, reverting to the previous name of John Taylor & Co.[14][15] Paul Taylor's widow, Mrs Merle Taylor, was honorary president of the new company until her death.

The board from 2015 to 2020 comprised Andrew W R Wilby (chairman and CEO), Laith R Reynolds, David E Potter, Michael J Semken, Simon E Adams, D Paul Mason and Andrew B Mills. In 2016, the directors of UK Bell Foundries Ltd founded the Loughborough Bellfoundry Trust and transferred ownership of the buildings, equipment, intellectual property and the museum to that body in perpetuity to safeguard it for the future. The Trust received emergency grants to restore several parts of the building from Historic England, as it was listed as a Grade II* building at risk. Further restoration was planned.[16]

In 2018, the company established a subsidiary called John Taylor International, based in Australia, to serve the southern hemisphere markets.[17] At the end of 2020, Andrew Wilby resigned as director and CEO; David Potter also resigned as director. Andrew's son Michael Wilby was managing director from October 2019 to August 2021.[18]

Notable bells and rings[edit]

In 1881 at Loughborough, Taylor's cast "Great Paul" (the largest British cast bell in Britain) for St Paul's Cathedral in London, weighing 17,002 kilograms (37,483 lb) or more than 17 metric tons. Rock band AC/DC used a 2000-pound cast bronze bell for the song "Hells Bells", which was originally used on the Back in Black Tour in 1980.

Many churches around the world have used bells cast at Taylor's bell foundry, including:

Tower Location Details of Bells cast Largest Bell cast (kg) Year(s) of casting Comments Image
All Saints' Church, Westbury Westbury, Wiltshire, UK 8 change ringing bells 1,784 1921 Third heaviest ring of eight bells in the world hung for change ringing. Grade I listed as "an exceptional example" of the founders' work.[19] All Saints' Church, Westbury.jpg
Beverley Minster Beverley, East Riding of Yorkshire, UK 10 change ringing bells 2,105 1896-1901 Third heaviest ringing peal of ten in the world.[20] Beverley Minster IMG 7786 - panoramio.jpg
bourdon bell "Great John" 7,151 1902 [21]
Buckfast Abbey Buckfastleigh, Devon, UK bourdon bell "Hosanna" 7,476 1936 One of the largest bells in the UK still rung by hand.[21] Buckfast Abbey July 2020 Perspective corrected.jpg
14 change ringing bells 2,097 1935 Heaviest ring of bells in a Catholic church hung for change ringing.[22]
Burton Memorial Tower University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan,

United States

55 bell carilllon 10,695 1936 [23] Burton Memorial Tower.jpg
Canberra National Carillon Canberra, Australia 57 bell carillon 6,108 1968-2019 Major overhaul in 2019, Taylor's cast new bass bell, largest bell cast at Taylor's for more than 25 years.[24] National Carillon Canberra (2801998200).jpg
Church of Our Lady and Saint Nicholas, Liverpool Liverpool, Merseyside 14 change ringing bells 2,128 1952-2008 New peal of thirteen change ringing bells in 1952, previous peal destroyed in Liverpool Blitz. Fourteenth bell cast in 2008.[25] Church of Our Lady and St Nicholas, Liverpool.jpg
Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin Dublin, Ireland 9 change ringing bells, including the tenor bell 2,295 1884-1999 Largest change ringing installation in the world by number of bells (19). Taylor's augmented the bells to a ring of sixteen plus three semitones and recast the tenor bell.[26][27][28] Christ Church Cathedral - Dublin - - 3669.jpg
Duke Chapel Carillon Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA 50 bell carillon 5,060 1932 [23] Duke Chapel, West Campus, Duke University, Durham, NC (48960317943).jpg
Evesham Bell Tower Evesham, Worcestershire 14 change ringing bells 1,813 1951-1992 One of the country's most famous detached bell towers; considered by many to be amongst the finest products of the foundry.[29][30] Evesham Abbey Bell Tower.jpg
Exeter Cathedral Exeter, Devon, UK 5 change ringing bells including tenor bell "Grandisson" 3,684 1902-1922 Second heaviest ring of bells hung for full circle ringing.[31] South tower, Exeter Cathedral - - 299012.jpg
Hull Minster Kingston upon Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire 15 change ringing bells, 25-bell carillon 1,304 1899-2016 One of the largest bell-installations in the country.[32][33] Hull Minster south view.jpg
Inveraray Bell Tower Inveraray, Argyll & Bute, UK 10 change ringing bells 2,112 1920 Heaviest peal of change ringing bells in Scotland. Schottland (75).jpg
Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK bourdon bell "Big Joe" 6,117 1908 The University of Birmingham Clocktower - - 444013.jpg
Leeds Minster Leeds, West Yorkshire 13 change ringing bells 2,057 1932 Second heaviest peal of bells in Yorkshire, after only York Minster.[34] Leeds Parish Church (7677715914).jpg
Liverpool Anglican Cathedral Liverpool, Merseyside, UK bourdon bell "Great George" 14,900 1940 Third largest bell in the UK[35] Liverpool Anglican Cathedral from Hope Street.jpg
Loughborough Memorial Carillon Loughborough, Leicestershire, UK 47 bell carillon 4,211 1923 [21] Loughborough Carillon - - 3930.jpg
Malta Siege Bell Siege Bell Memorial, Valletta, Malta bourdon bell 10,899 1992 [36] Detail of the Siege Bell War Memorial, Valletta, Malta (PPL1-Corrected) julesvernex2.jpg
Manchester Town Hall Manchester, UK 23 bell carillon, including 13 change ringing bells 2,170 1937 [37] Manchester Town Hall Exterior.jpg
bourdon bell "Great Abel" 8,279 1882 [21]
Nottingham Council House Nottingham, UK 5 clock bells including bourdon bell "Little John" 10,528 1928 Second deepest clock chime in the UK after York.[21] Council-House-Nottingham.jpg
Rainbow Bridge Carillon Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada 55 bell carillon 8,909 1947 [38] RainbowBridge NiagaraFalls.jpg
Southwark Cathedral Southwark, Greater London UK 2 change ringing bells 2,477 2016 Recast tenor and 7th bells in 2016, rehung and retuned all other bells.[39] Southwark Cathedral - - 665426.jpg
St Andrew's Cathedral, Singapore Singapore, Singapore 13 change ringing bells 1,297 1888-2019 Heaviest peal of change ringing bells in Asia. Original chime of 8 bells retuned or recast to form core of new ring.[40][41][42] Saint Andrew's Cathedral, Singapore 15.JPG
St Chad's Church, Shrewsbury Shrewsbury, Shropshire 12 change ringing bells 2,010 1914 First complete peal of twelve true-harmonic bells cast by Taylor's.[43] St Chad's Church, Shrewsbury 2017.jpg
St George's Church, Vernet-les-Bains Vernet-les-Bains, France 10 change ringing bells 261 2018-2019 First and only peal of change ringing bells in France.[44] Vue de Vernet Les Bains.jpg
St George's Church, Ypres Ypres, Belgium 8 change ringing bells 323 2017 First and only peal of change ringing bells in Belgium. Cast to commemorate centenary of the end of the First World War.[45] Ieper Anglicaanse bidplaats.JPG
St George-in-the-Pines Banff, Alberta, Canada 11 change ringing bells 1926 Shipped to Banff via the Panama Canal. First of only two churches in Canada to possess a set from John Taylor & Co.[46] St. George's in the Pines Church (5).JPG
St Mary Redcliffe Bristol, UK 12+2 change ringing bells 2,575 1903-2012 Heaviest ring of bells hung for full circle ringing in the world not in a Cathedral.[47] Bristol eglise St Mary redcliffe.jpg
St Mary's Church, Southampton Southampton, Hampshire, UK 10 change ringing bells 1,096 1945 Replaced a peal of ten also cast by Taylor's in 1912, destroyed in Southampton Blitz.

First ring of church bells in the UK to be restored post war.[48]

St Mary's Church, Southampton.jpg
St Michael and All Angels' Church, Heavitree Heavitree, Exeter, UK 8 change ringing bells 1,309 1897 Bells are listed for preservation for their quality.[49] St Michael and All Angels, Heavitree, Devon.jpg
St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin Dublin, Republic of Ireland 15 change ringing bells 2,307 1896-2007 Heaviest ring of bells in Ireland, and heaviest change ringing peal outside of the UK. Dublin St. Patrick's Cathedral West Façade at Patrick Street 2012 09 26.jpg
St Paul's Cathedral, London City of London, UK 3 clock bells and bourdon bell "Great Paul" 17,002 1878 Great Paul is the heaviest bell ever cast at Taylor's and the second heaviest bell in the UK.[21] St Paul's Cathedral, London, 2016-1.jpg
12 change ringing bells 3,125 1878 3rd heaviest peal of bells by tenor weight in the world hung for change ringing[50]
St Peter's Cathedral, Adelaide Adelaide, Australia 8 change ringing bells 2,096 1946 Heaviest ring of bells in Australia, and heaviest tenor bell in the Southern Hemisphere.[51] St Peter's Cathedral, Adelaide SA.jpg
The Bok Tower Lake Wales, Florida, USA 60 bell carillon 10,544 1927 [23] Bok Tower, Lake Wales, FL.jpg
Trinity Church, Manhattan New York City, New York, USA 13 change ringing bells 1,214 2006-2016 First and only peal of twelve change ringing bells in the United States. Thirteenth bell cast in 2016.[52][53] Trinity Church NYC panoramic.jpg
Trinity Church, Ossett Ossett, West Yorkshire, UK 16 change ringing bells 1,396 1934-2016 Originally a peal of ten bells, augmented to twelve (plus one extra semitone) in 1987, to fourteen in 2012 and to fifteen in 2016. Only diatonic peal of fifteen change ringing bells in the world.[54] Trinity Church, Ossett.jpg
Truro Cathedral Truro, Cornwall 14 change ringing bells, 4 clock bells 1,719 1904-2011 First and only peal of twelve bells in Cornwall. Original peal of ten augmented in 2011 with four new bells.[55][56] TruroCathedralWest.jpg
Washington National Cathedral Washington, D.C., USA 53-bell carillon 10,697 1963 [57] National Cathedral Twilight.jpg
Wells Cathedral Wells, Somerset, UK 2 change ringing bells including tenor bell 2,864 1877 Tenor bell is 5th heaviest bell in the world hung for change ringing.[21] Wells Cathedral Exterior (29762257538).jpg
Wills Memorial Building University of Bristol, Bristol, UK bourdon bell "Great George" 9,724 1925 Second heaviest bell rung by hand in the UK.[21] University of bristol tower after cleaning arp.jpg
Winchester Cathedral Winchester, Hampshire 12 change ringing bells 1,806 1937 Heaviest peal of bells in Hampshire; one of Europe's largest Cathedrals.[58][59] Winchester Cathedral Central Tower.jpg
Worcester Cathedral Worcester, Worcestershire, UK 15 change ringing bells and bourdon bell 4,215 1868-1928 Ringing peal is 5th heaviest in the world by overall weight. Worcester from Fort Royal Hill.jpg
Yale Memorial Carillon Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA 54 bell carillon 6,078 1922 [23] Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut LCCN2012630631.tif
York Minster York, North Yorkshire, UK 14 change ringing bells 3,020 1925-1978 4th heaviest peal of bells by tenor weight in the world hung for change ringing.[60] York Minster Chief Facade Panorama.jpg
35 bell carillon 1,215 1933-2008 Originally a chime of 11 bells from St Mary's Church, Nelson, Lancashire, increased to 35 bells in early 2000s. First UK Cathedral to have both a carillon and change ringing peal.
bourdon bell "Great Peter" 11,009 1927 Deepest toned hour bell in the UK. Heaviest bell in the UK still rung manually.[21]


  1. ^ "JOHN TAYLOR BELL FOUNDRY (LOUGHBOROUGH) LIMITED". Companies House. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  2. ^ Foundry Merger Archived 25 April 2006 at the Wayback Machine accessed 20 June 2007
  3. ^ "Felstead Database – All Time List". Retrieved 15 November 2020.
  4. ^ Foundry History Archived 1 July 2007 at the Wayback Machine accessed 20 June 2007
  5. ^ "Bell Founders". Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers. Retrieved 8 March 2011.
  6. ^ The Sound of Bells accessed 20 June 2007
  7. ^ Church Bell Maker Paul Taylor on What's My Line, clip on YouTube
  8. ^ Historic England. "Taylor's Bell Foundry (that Part on East Side of Cobden Street) (1002996)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  9. ^ Historic England. "Taylor's Bell Foundry (that Part on West Side of Cobden Street) (1264685)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  10. ^ "Bell foundry faces administration", BBC Leicestershire, 19 September 2009. Retrieved on 21 September 2009
  11. ^ "No. 59194". The London Gazette. 24 September 2009. p. 16422.
  12. ^ Largest bell foundry in administration—Mazars plans to sell business as going concern Archived 7 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Accountancy Magazine, 21 September 2009. Retrieved 21 September 2009.
  13. ^ "Hopes high for bell foundry bid", BBC Leicestershire, 2 October 2009. Retrieved on 16 October 2009.
  14. ^ John Taylor & Co Bellfounders Loughborough—We are open for business! (, Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers, 15 October 2009. Retrieved on 20 October 2009.
  15. ^ "Historic foundry's future secure", BBC News, 17 October 2009. Retrieved on 20 October 2009.
  16. ^ "About the Bellfoundry". Loughborough Bellfoundry Trust. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  17. ^ "John Taylor International". John Taylor & Co. Retrieved 15 November 2020.
  18. ^ "JOHN TAYLOR BELL FOUNDRY (LOUGHBOROUGH) LIMITED – Filing history". Companies House. 25 January 2021. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  19. ^ Baldwin, John. "Rings of eight by tenor weight". Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  20. ^ Baldwin, John. "Heaviest Rings of Ten". Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers. Retrieved 18 February 2021.
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Great Bells – British Isles". Retrieved 18 February 2021.
  22. ^ Baldwin, John. "List of Rings in the Roman Catholic Church". Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers. Retrieved 18 February 2021.
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  25. ^ "Our Bells". Liverpool Parish Church. 2008. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
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  28. ^ O'Brien, Tim (2 August 1999). "Cathedral's latest bells to create a world record". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  29. ^ "Evesham Bell Tower". Discover Worcestershire. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  30. ^ Higson, Andrew (20 March 2020). "Evesham Bell Tower". Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  31. ^ "Bells and Bellringers". Exeter Cathedral. Retrieved 18 February 2021.
  32. ^ "Hull Minster – Bells". Hull Minster. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  33. ^ "Hull Minster – Carillon". Hull Minster. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  34. ^ "Bells at Leeds Minster". Leeds Minster. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  35. ^ Liverpool Cathedral Bells accessed 20 June 2007
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  37. ^ Baldwin, John (14 March 2020). "Tower details – Manchester Town Hall". Dove's Guide for Church Bellringers. Retrieved 18 February 2021.
  38. ^ "For the Enthusiast – Notable Bells (Canada)". John Taylor & Co. Retrieved 18 February 2021.
  39. ^ "Bells – Southwark Cathedral". Southwark Cathedral. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  40. ^ Gwee, June (13 September 2013). "The Ministry of Change Ringing | Courier-Online | St Andrew's Cathedral". St Andrew's Cathedral, Singapore. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
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  42. ^ "English bell ringing reaches Asia – as the Exercise goes global". Deep South Media. 22 October 2019. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  43. ^ "Shrewsbury, St Chad". Shropshire Association of Church Bellringers. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  44. ^ "Project – Vernet-les-Bains, Southern France". John Taylor & Co. Archived from the original on 2 May 2021. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  45. ^ Crisp, James (11 November 2018). "Church bells built by Telegraph readers ring on Armistice Day for first time". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  46. ^ Commonwealth Walkway, The Banff Commonwealth Walkway: Tunnel Mountain 'Green Walk', p. 2, retrieved 20 August 2022
  47. ^ Baldwin, John (1 June 2014). "Tower details – St Mary Redcliffe". Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  48. ^ "The Bells of St Mary's". Parish of Southampton. Archived from the original on 28 July 2011. Retrieved 31 October 2009.
  49. ^ "Heavitree: St Michael & All Angels". Church of England: Church Heritage Record. Retrieved 2021-12-27.
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  51. ^ Baldwin, John (6 November 2013). "Tower details – St Peter's Cathedral, Adelaide". Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers. Retrieved 18 February 2021.
  52. ^ Wakin, Daniel J. (4 September 2009). "From 12 Ropes and Bells, a River of Sound Over Wall St". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
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  54. ^ Baldwin, John. "Rings of Bells, sorted by number of bells". Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  55. ^ "Cathedral's new bells to ring out over Truro". BBC News. 2 March 2011. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  56. ^ "Truro Cathedral Bells". Truro Cathedral. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  57. ^ "For the Enthusiast – Notable Bells (USA)". John Taylor & Co. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  58. ^ "Winchester bell celebrates its 400th anniversary on New Year's Day". Winchester Cathedral. 28 December 2020. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  59. ^ Baldwin, John. "Rings of Bells in Hampshire". Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  60. ^ Baldwin, John. "List of Peals by tenor weight". Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers. Retrieved 18 February 2021.

Further reading[edit]

  • Milsom, Michael J. (2018) [2017]. Bells & Bellfounding: A History, Church Bells, Carillons, John Taylor & Co., Bellfounders. Loughborough. ISBN 978-1547239153.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 52°46′23.44″N 1°11′56.10″W / 52.7731778°N 1.1989167°W / 52.7731778; -1.1989167