Britain’s last traditional bell foundry has had its future secured with £3.45m of National Lottery funding.
John Taylor & Co has been at the same site in Loughborough, Leicestershire, since 1859 but can trace its heritage back to the 14th Century.
The money will contribute to a £5m fund for urgent repairs to buildings and equipment, as well as a training and education programme.
Staff at the foundry said the news was the “best possible Christmas present”.
The Loughborough site has cast more than 25,000 bells that are hung in more than 100 countries, including the largest church bell in Britain, Great Paul, which hangs in St Paul’s Cathedral.
Its work has even entered popular culture – the bells from St Thomas’s Church, on Fifth Avenue, New York, heard on The Pogues’ and Kirsty McColl’s Christmas anthem Fairytale of New York, were cast at the foundry.
The company said it employs a team of 30 who have a range of specialist heritage skills including casting, tuning and finishing bells.
It also produces the associated parts and mechanisms for bells such as frames, headstocks, wheels, hand-bells, carillons and ropes.
As well as enabling urgent repairs to the Grade II listed Victorian buildings, the money will help train a new generation in bell-making skills and deliver an engagement and outreach programme.
Hannah Taylor, chair of the Loughborough Bellfoundry Trust, the not-for-profit organisation which oversees the preservation of the site and its museum, said: “This news is the best possible Christmas present and will ensure the foundry, its buildings, the museum and rare archive will be protected, and that Loughborough bells are heard and enjoyed by many future generations around the world.”