Big Ben rings out for the last time for four years as it’s silenced

Big Ben London

by Owen Tonks |
Published on

Big Ben’s famous chimes will not ring out across London for the next four years after the mammoth bells were silenced today.

The iconic landmark is to undergo renovation work, meaning Westminster will be a much quieter place at certain times of the day and night.

MPs and other workers at the Palace of Westminster stood and listened to the final sounds from the tower which stands next to the Houses of Parliament at midday.

Big Ben London
Crowds gather to hear Big Ben's final rings before the work (Credit: Getty Images)

The colour scheme on the clock is to be changed to become more vibrant as it was much more colourful when it was first built.

A careful analysis of the paint will be conducted to ensure it matches the original colours exactly and a brick enclosure inside the tower will also be replaced to allow the Great Bell to be seen by people walking up the stairs inside.

“We are going to look at the colour scheme around the clock faces. The existing colour scheme is rather drab. It’s not what was originally intended and we are working on that at the moment,” conservation architect Adam Watrobski told the Metro.

Big Ben London
Paint can be seen peeling on the back of the clock face (Credit: Getty Images)

“There’s a brick enclosure that was put in, in the 1950s at the top of the staircase. That was never intended. It was always the intention that you would be able to go up the stairs and see the bell straightaway at the top of the stairs, so we are going replace that with a glass enclosure.”

A lift will be installed, leaks inside the clock room stopped, the bell frame fixed and the roof restored.

Each of the four glass clock faces will also be reglazed, replacing around 312 pieces of glass in each.

Big Ben London
Work will take place on the bell frame (Credit: Getty Images)

Keeper of the Great Clock Steve Jaggs said the repairs were not urgent but thinks they should be carried out now before the job becomes too big in the future, and to secure the “international symbol of democracy” going forward.

Some people and MPs have found the plans controversial and Parliament last week announced they would review them.

While it is said the bells will be silent for four years, an exact date on when the work will be finished has not been set.

This is the longest time Big Ben will be silent since it was build 157 years ago.


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