|© David Gill|
Spokesperson Phil Mitchell gave a statement: "This 'Auntie Nell' forms part of the East End's history. It needs to be put on display where it belongs: and that is in Walford."
A local historian, Albert Cubey, found the key documents while writing a history of bell-foundries in London's East End. "The correspondence was bound into a leather ledger for the foundry. It appears that part of the final payment was never made, and requests for the bell's return were ignored."
A spokesperson for the US National Parks Service said that she was unable to comment on installations linked to national security, but added that the bell was of cosmopolitan significance and should therefore be displayed in Philadelphia. She added that the return of the bell would set a dangerous precedent and lead to the potential returns of cultural property to source nations.
The UK Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) declined an interview and suggested that all would be revealed in the documentary that had been prepared.
A programme about the Walford project will be shown on BBC1 at 8.00 pm tomorrow (Monday).