John Taylor & Co.
John Taylor & Co. is the largest working bell foundry in the world and a jewel in Loughborough’s crown. Peals of Taylor’s bells ring out daily from many of the great cathedrals, town halls and municipal buildings at home and across the seas. The impressive skill of its craftsmen and the traditional methods they maintain means that for centuries, Loughborough’s bells have been internationally renowned for their quality and distinctive rich sound. The area has been connected with bell founding since the middle of the 14th Century, when Johannes De Stafford was practicing just 10 miles from the site of the current foundry. The present foundry building was constructed in 1859 and is still producing bells of all sizes today.
Taylor’s are immensely proud of their heritage and insist that it’s their commitment to historic moulding, casting and tuning processes that gives their bells a signature character. The practice of loam moulding is kept alive by the foundry, a labour intensive process that involves the kiln drying of individually applied layers of wet loam — a substance made up of clay, manure, animal hair and sand — to form a mould case into which the molten bell metal is poured. Once the bell has been cast, it is vital that it is cooled slowly in order to prevent future cracking. Taylor’s still trust in the medieval method of digging a pit to bury their bells in the earth of the foundry floor to cool them, believing it creates a better structure and superior sounding bell. The bells are also tuned by hand, allowing for small idiosyncrasies that make the resonance more enjoyable to the human ear. The Bell Tuner follows a five tone principle pioneered by Taylor’s in 1896, working on separate harmonics known as the hum, fundamental, tierce, quint and nominal. When the correct frequency is achieved for each of these, the bell is in tune.