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Friday, 26 March 2010

Whitechapel Bell Foundry.

I'm blogging adventures that I've done in the past. This trip to the Whitechapel Bell Foundry took place in August 2008. It's an extremely popular place to visit and the waiting list is a long one. If you book expect to wait several months to see it.
The foundry was founded in 1570 and is Britain's oldest manufacturer. It is in the East End of London in Whitechapel. It is believed that is was originally on a site across the road and that was founded early in the fifteenth century.

The tour starts in the front of the shop and we are taken through to the back of the building where the guide tells us that the back wall we are looking at is the oldest part of the building and dates from the 17th century.
I immediately got a sense of the history once we had got to the yard and there were bells littering the floor. We were shown around by Mike, the man standing in the door, he has worked here for donkey's years.

Big Ben and the Liberty Bell were cast here. 

These shapes on the wall were used for Big Ben and the Bow Bells.

The shelves where all the tools are kept. One of the things that really pleased me was the total disregard for "Health and Safety" rules. It really is like walking around in another age when common sense still ruled supreme.
This is a side view of the foundry. After the tour you get a chance to buy goodies in the shop and I bought a little bell that makes the most wonderful tinkling sound.

 There are loads more photo's on my page at flickr, here's the link
If you have nothing better to do then make the effort to email them and book a visit here
But be warned, tours for 2010 are fully booked so plan ahead!

Friday, 19 March 2010

A 1950's purveyor of coffee in Camden, North London.

I took the tube to Camden to see the refurbished Jewish Museum and on the way back to the tube station found this little shop, and I was pleased to see it was open. It's always been closed when I've walked past before and it's always intrigued me. So at last I got the chance to have a nose around.

It's a tiny little shop, only about 8 feet square but what strikes you first is the aroma, pure delicious high class coffee.

The shop sells coffee beans and nothing else. It's been in business since 1950 here in the same premises at 11 Delancey Street, Camden. The original owner bought his coffee wholesale from a company that is still in business and is Europe's largest coffee wholesaler. In fact that first owner of this coffee shop was the  wholesale company's first customer!

That's George in the photo above, the current owner of the shop. He's from Cyprus and has worked here for 35 years. He says that when he retires there is no one to follow him.

The coffee grinders are all the original ones from 1950. George will grind the coffee for you if you so wish. I bought some coffee beans from Costa Rica, a medium to strong coffee and enjoyed a delicious cup of it when I got home later that day.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

In the footsteps of the Kray's. London's East End, April 2009.

I, and a few friends with a small book for a self guided walk about the Kray's set off one day to explore the world of the notorious twins.
This is Pellicci's cafe at 332 Bethnal Green Road E2.
The twins used to frequent this cafe as teenagers.
It's been run by the same family since 1900.
We went inside for dinner and had a really good meal.
 The family are lovely and very friendly. One of the family members told us that Charlie Kray sent a teddy bear to one of the family's new baby girl when she was born.

We also went to the Repton boys boxing club where the twins trained. As we were chatting outside who should walk out of the doors but no other than Mad Frankie Fraser!
Frankie Fraser was described by two Home Secretaries as the most dangerous man in Britain.
In this photo he is 85 years old.
The 'mad' nickname comes from his spell in Pentonville prison where he was declared insane.