Big Ben

Big Ben silenced for four-year conservation project

  • 14 Aug 2017

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Big Ben’s famous striking will be paused until 2021, as a programme of important renovation and conservation work begins on the Elizabeth Tower.

Members of the public are invited to convene in Parliament Square for Big Ben’s final bongs, scheduled to sound on Monday 21st August at noon. 

The famous bell will then be silenced until 2021. This will enable conservationists to rectify a number of problems identified with Big Ben’s home, the Elizabeth Tower, and the Great Clock; the necessary repairs cannot be carried out whilst the clock is in operation.

Silencing Big Ben

The Great Clock is operated by a bespoke Victorian clockwork mechanism, in which gravity works to trigger Big Ben’s famous bongs. 

To pause the bell, the striking hammers will be locked, and it will be disconnected from the clock mechanism to ensure silent operation for the next four years. However, Parliament’s specialist clock makers will ensure that Big Ben can still sound for important events, such as New Year’s Eve and Remembrance Sunday.

Big Ben

Conserving Big Ben

At 96 metres tall, the Elizabeth Tower is a prominent feature of the Grade I listed Palace of Westminster. Renovation work is required to conserve the famous structure, and ensure its protection for generations to come. 

The project aims to preserve the Tower’s original elements, maintaining their original design by Victorian architects Charles Barry and Augustus Welby Pugin. 

The team will also work to reduce the Tower’s environmental impact by implementing a range of energy efficiency measures, repair and redecorate the interior where necessary, and upgrade all health, safety and fire protection systems.

The scaffolding was erected earlier this year; once it reaches the necessary height, work will begin at the top of the Tower, with the renovation of the Ayrton Light and the refurbishment of the cast iron roofing. The team will work their way down the structure, removing the scaffolding as they go.

The Great Clock itself will be dismantled, and each individual cog will be subject to examination and restoration. The four dials will be cleaned, the glass repaired, the cast iron framework updated, and the hands removed and refurbished.

The renovation work is scheduled for completion in 2021.

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