2016, you terrible year, now you have claimed the sound of liberty itself.
London's Whitechapel Bell Foundry, which has been casting bells for the world since 1570, announced this weekend that it can no longer keep its doors open. The oldest manufacturing company in Britain has said its own bell will toll in May.
Its current home, in which it has been operating since 1738, was established before the United States. Jack the Ripper and Joseph "Elephant Man" Merrick were both neighbors when its neighborhood was poor and filthy. And it has already been sold—nearly 300 years of heritage will soon be wiped away. If the company itself (which makes church bells, hand bells, and great big gongers) finds a buyer, it will likely not be able to afford to remain in East London, where real estate prices have skyrocketed over the last 15 years.
The Foundry is one of the most interesting tours available in London. Its Saturday events, which bring visitors close to the furnaces and molds that have created everything from Philadelphia's Liberty Bell to Big Ben itself, sell out months ahead of time. The owner plans to retire in May, and with his unsettling announcement that half a millenium of heritage is at risk of ending, the last few tour slots are bound to sell out rapidly.
America had better act fast it wants to return its cracked bell for repairs.