The world's most famous foundry - and Britain's oldest manufacturing company - is set to close, ending a family business which has survived for nearly 500 years.
According to the Daily Mail, The Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London's East End and listed by Guinness World Records as the oldest manufacturing firm in Britain was formed in 1570 in the reign of Elizabeth I.
One of two remaining bell foundries in Britain, it famously cast Westminster's Big Ben and Philadelphia's Liberty Bell.
However in a shock announcement, its owners said the family business is to close in May next year.
The company said it intends to complete all projects currently on its books but will not take on new contracts while discussions about its 'future direction, ownership and location' are ongoing.
In May the famous foundry will have cast its last bell after 447 years in business.
The Whitechapel Bell Foundry makes and repairs clock and tower bells and fulfilling orders from all over the world.
It famously cast Big Ben - the hour bell of Augustus Pugin's Great Clock of Westminster, weighing 13.5 tons, standing at a height of some 7ft and with a diameter of 10ft.
Members of the UK Royal Family - including the Queen and Prince Charles - have conducted a number of visits to the foundry.