It is rare indeed for a museum to commission a brand new object for its collection. But then the Museum of London's new purchase will be instantly historical — and historic too.
It has just put in an order for the last ever bell to be made at Whitechapel Bell Foundry, which is closing in May. This will likely be the last bell to be cast in central London — and will become a main attraction for the museum when it relocates to Smithfield. It's uncertain exactly what the exhibit will entail, although a 'Sounds of London' display has been mooted.
The museum will also display a handful of items from Whitechapel Bell Foundry, including a rare wooden lathe for making hand bells from 1740, and the moulding gauges of the Bow Bells, cast in 1956, after the originals were destroyed in the Blitz.
These objects will join a collection which already includes a bell cast by Robert Mot at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in 1573, a plague bell and a hand bell from Vauxhall Gardens.
Says Alex Werner, Head of History Collections at the Museum of London, "The Whitechapel Bell Foundry is an incredibly important part of London’s long manufacturing and bell casting history and it's great that we're able to preserve part of its legacy."