John Taylor & Co

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Taylor's bell foundry in Freehold Street, Loughborough, in late 2011

John Taylor & Co, 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 in Loughborough, in the Charnwood borough of Leicestershire, England. The business originated in the 14th century and became Taylor's after the Taylor family took over in 1784.

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

The company manufactures bells for use in clock towers, rings of bells for change ringing, chimes, and carillons. In 2005 John Taylor's had merged with Eayre & Smith Ltd (bellhangers) and from 2005 until 2009 was Taylors Eayre & Smith Ltd.[1]

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.[2]


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.[3] 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.[4] During much of the later 19th century the foundry was under the management of John William Taylor (1827–1906). Taylor's were the first bellfounder to adopt "true-harmonic" tuning in the late 19th century.[5] The foundry is based in buildings on Freehold Street which are Grade II* listed.[6][7]

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.[8]

On 18 September 2009 the company went into administration.[9][10] Mazars, who had previously been acting as advisors to the company during attempts to secure extra funding, were appointed administrators.[11] On 2 October 2009 it was reported that the administrators were "optimistic about its future."[12] On 15 October 2009, in a statement released by UK Bellfounders 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.[13][14] Paul Taylor's widow, Mrs Merle Taylor, was Hon. President of the new company until her death. The current board since 2015 comprises 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.

Before September 2009 the foundry was employing 26 people, and since then the new company employs 31 including 4 apprentices.

In 2016 the Directors of UK Bellfoundries 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.[citation needed]

In 2018 the company established a subsidiary called John Taylor International, based in Australia, to serve the southern hemisphere markets.[15]

The National Twelve Bell Contest is competed for annually by the leading teams in England for "The Taylor Trophy".

Notable bells[edit]

Inscription on the Bourdon bell of the Baird Carillon at the University of Michigan

In 1881 Taylor's cast at Loughborough "Great Paul", which is the largest British cast bell in Britain, for St Paul's Cathedral 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 across the world have used bells cast at Taylor's Bell Foundry, including:


Tenor bell of St Mary's parish church, Almeley, Herefordshire. Taylor's cast and hung the bell in 1960.
  1. ^ Foundry Merger Archived 25 April 2006 at the Wayback Machine accessed 20 June 2007
  2. ^ "Felstead Database - All Time List". Retrieved 15 November 2020.
  3. ^ Foundry History Archived 1 July 2007 at the Wayback Machine accessed 20 June 2007
  4. ^ "Bell Founders". Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers. Retrieved 8 March 2011.
  5. ^ The Sound of Bells accessed 20 June 2007
  6. ^ Historic England. "Taylor's Bell Foundry (that Part on East Side of Cobden Street) (1002996)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  7. ^ Historic England. "Taylor's Bell Foundry (that Part on West Side of Cobden Street) (1264685)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  8. ^ Church Bell Maker Paul Taylor on What's My Line, clip on YouTube
  9. ^ "Bell foundry faces administration", BBC Leicestershire, 19 September 2009. Retrieved on 21 September 2009
  10. ^ "No. 59194". The London Gazette. 24 September 2009. p. 16422.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ "Hopes high for bell foundry bid", BBC Leicestershire, 2 October 2009. Retrieved on 16 October 2009.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ "Historic foundry's future secure", BBC News, 17 October 2009. Retrieved on 20 October 2009.
  15. ^ "John Taylor International". John Taylor & Co. Retrieved 15 November 2020.
  16. ^
  17. ^ Graham Elmes A new Tenor for Wareham p712-714 The Ringing World No 5385 11.7.2014
  18. ^ Liverpool Cathedral Bells accessed 20 June 2007
  19. ^ "The Bells Of St Mary's". Parish of Southampton. Archived from the original on 28 July 2011. Retrieved 31 October 2009.
  20. ^ "North Stoneham: St Nicolas". Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers. 26 September 2006. Retrieved 21 November 2009.
  21. ^ Times, Tom Halsted Special to the. "Carillon to chime at Our Lady of Good Voyage". Gloucester Daily Times. Retrieved 3 April 2019.

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