John Taylor & Co
|John Taylor & Co|
|Formerly||Taylors Eayre & Smith Limited (2005–2009)|
|Michael Wilby 2019-2021 (MD)|
|Parent||UK Bell Foundries Ltd|
|Subsidiaries||John Taylor International|
John Taylor Bell Foundry (Loughborough) Limited, 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.
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.
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. 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.
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. 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.
The foundry is based in buildings on Freehold Street, which are Grade II* listed. 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. Mazars, which had previously been acting as advisors to the company during attempts to secure extra funding, were appointed administrators. On 2 October 2009, it was reported that the administrators were "optimistic about its future." 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. 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.
In 2018, the company established a subsidiary called John Taylor International, based in Australia, to serve the southern hemisphere markets. 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.
Notable bells and rings
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.|
|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.|
|bourdon bell "Great John"||7,151||1902|||
|Buckfast Abbey||Buckfastleigh, Devon, UK||bourdon bell "Hosanna"||7,476||1936||One of the largest bells in the UK still rung by hand.|
|14 change ringing bells||2,097||1935||Heaviest ring of bells in a Catholic church hung for change ringing.|
|Burton Memorial Tower||University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan,||55 bell carilllon||10,695||1936|||
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|Duke Chapel Carillon||Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA||50 bell carillon||5,060||1932|||
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|Inveraray Bell Tower||Inveraray, Argyll & Bute, UK||10 change ringing bells||2,112||1920||Heaviest peal of change ringing bells in Scotland.|
|Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower||University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK||bourdon bell "Big Joe"||6,117||1908|
|Leeds Minster||Leeds, West Yorkshire||13 change ringing bells||2,057||1932||Second heaviest peal of bells in Yorkshire, after only York Minster.|
|Liverpool Anglican Cathedral||Liverpool, Merseyside, UK||bourdon bell "Great George"||14,900||1940||Third largest bell in the UK|
|Loughborough Memorial Carillon||Loughborough, Leicestershire, UK||47 bell carillon||4,211||1923|||
|Malta Siege Bell||Siege Bell Memorial, Valletta, Malta||bourdon bell||10,899||1992|||
|Manchester Town Hall||Manchester, UK||23 bell carillon, including 13 change ringing bells||2,170||1937|||
|bourdon bell "Great Abel"||8,279||1882|||
|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.|
|Rainbow Bridge Carillon||Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada||55 bell carillon||8,909||1947|||
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|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.
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|12 change ringing bells||3,125||1878||3rd heaviest peal of bells by tenor weight in the world hung for change ringing|
|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.|
|The Bok Tower||Lake Wales, Florida, USA||60 bell carillon||10,544||1927|||
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|Washington National Cathedral||Washington, D.C., USA||53-bell carillon||10,697||1963|||
|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.|
|Wills Memorial Building||University of Bristol, Bristol, UK||bourdon bell "Great George"||9,724||1925||Second heaviest bell rung by hand in the UK.|
|Winchester Cathedral||Winchester, Hampshire||12 change ringing bells||1,806||1937||Heaviest peal of bells in Hampshire; one of Europe's largest Cathedrals.|
|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.|
|Yale Memorial Carillon||Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA||54 bell carillon||6,078||1922|||
|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.|
|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.|
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- Milsom, Michael J. (2018) . Bells & Bellfounding: A History, Church Bells, Carillons, John Taylor & Co., Bellfounders. Loughborough. ISBN 978-1547239153.
- Official website
- Panorama of the foundry – BBC Leicester
- History of the Taylor family
- Index of carillons, chimes and great bells produced by the Taylor foundry
Coordinates: 52°46′23.44″N 1°11′56.10″W / 52.7731778°N 1.1989167°W