4-year, £29 million restoration of London’s 160-year-old Big Ben to begin in 2017

Big Ben is to fall silent while urgent repair works are carried out on the Elizabeth Tower and the famous clock, the House of Commons has announced.

The bell will be silenced during a £29 million project to repair the clock faces and mechanism, as well as cracks in the tower’s masonry and corrosion in the roof.

The clock faces will also be given a new colour scheme, with the Commons authorities eager to reflect the original design by Augustus Pugin.

Big Ben is the nickname for the Great Bell of the clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster in London, and often extended to refer to both the clock and the clock tower. The tower is officially known as Elizabeth Tower, renamed to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II in 2012; previously it was known simply as the Clock Tower.

The tower holds the second largest four-faced chiming clock in the world (after the Minneapolis City Hall). The tower was completed in 1859 and had its 150th anniversary on 31 May 2009, during which celebratory events took place.

The tower has become one of the most prominent symbols of the United Kingdom and is often in the establishing shot of films set in London.

Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake, spokesman for the House of Commons commission that is responsible for maintaining the parliamentary estate, said: “The Elizabeth Tower is a symbol of the UK’s democratic heritage and forms part of a Unesco world heritage site. We have a duty to ensure that it is safeguarded for future generations to appreciate, just as we owe it to our predecessors to restore their masterpiece to its former glory. While these works are much needed in the short term, they will also ensure the long-term future and sustainability of Big Ben.

Photo of Palace of Westminster and Big Ben by Diliff via Wikipedia.

See April 2016 article in The Guardian announcing upcoming restoration.

See October 29, 2016 KRIS-TV article & news video.

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