Heritage Volunteers TAYLOR'S BELL FOUNDRY Freehold St, Loughborough LE11 1AR Founded: 1784  01509 212241 Responding to a rather vague invitation from what was then NADFAS Heritage Volunteers to the Charnwood Branch of the Arts Society asking for help with the preservation of Archives at Taylor's Bell Foundry, a group of members attended an inaugural training day on 29th September 2015 to determine what this might involve.  None of us realised, at that point, that John Taylor's has one of the most complete records of industrial engineering in existence, dating back to the middle of the 18th  century, and that we were going to be involved  in a company which, apart from lately incorporating technology into the fine tuning of bells, still casts them using the same manufacturing methods it has employed for over two centuries. Since that first session a group of four of us (now three) has worked for over 800 hours  conserving the vast number of ledgers which between them map out the history of the company. Firstly we tackled the "Letter Books"  each containing 1,000 pages of copies of lately typewritten,  but in earlier times beautiful copperplate hand-written correspondence which left the offices of the company back to about 1880. We then moved on to "Invoice Books" and "Casting Books", namely what goes into the furnaces and what comes out, not to mention "Cash Books" and "Time Books", these being the calculation of labourers’ wages who were paid by the number of hours worked each day. Due to the nature of the manufacturing processes undertaken within the foundry, initially all the books need to be cleaned; some have water damage due to a leaking roof which in itself has led to mould. As amateur conservationists our main aims are to clean the volumes, note any defects and missing pages, remedy what can be mended, prevent further deterioration and recognise when professional help might be required. Identifying the nature of the bindings themselves, whether leather, book cloth or paper, determines the processes we use to restore the volumes to as reasonable condition as possible.  Initially, being new and totally inexperienced workers in the field of conservation, it was agreed that we should start by working on the most recent and least damaged of the volumes and from thence we have been working backwards through "archive time". The future holds interesting challenges for us with the older more fragile volumes needing more care as they emerge to take their place in what is indeed a unique industrial archive.   Gillian Carter    Conservationists at work                      This spine damage is treatable                Letter Books post restoration                      Bell manufacturing in the foundry.        TASC Volunteers with bells from St Pauls Cathedral
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