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Big Ben chimes to be silenced for £29 mln refurbishment

Britain's most famous clock tower will be stopped for urgent repair work at a cost of £29 mln
Big Ben chimes to be silenced for £29 mln refurbishment

The Parliament says it has no choice but to stop the chimes of Big Ben, after 157 years of nearly unbroken service, to prevent its mechanism from failing, the BBC reports.

The Elizabeth Tower, which houses it, will also be repaired during the three year project, which starts next year.

The clock will not be stopped for the entire three year period, a spokesman told BBC News.

“The clock mechanism will need to be stopped for several months in order to carry out essential maintenance,” said the spokesman.

“During this period there will be no chimes. We are also investigating whether or not the chiming will have an effect on operatives working at high level, which will need to be taken into consideration. Striking and tolling will be maintained for important events.”

The Big Ben nickname originally referred to the 13.5 tonne Great Bell within the tower, but has long been the commonly used name for the clock and tower as a whole.

The refit could see the clock faces stripped of the black and gold paint that was applied in the 1980s to return them to their Victorian appearance, which is thought to feature green and gold paint.

Parliament said on its website that parts of the Great Clock have become worn and require urgent investigation and repair, and there is a high risk that the clock would fail if the problems are not addressed soon.

There are concerns about the pendulum’s accuracy, and the suspension spring, which holds the pendulum in place, needs to be replaced.

Steve Jaggs, Keeper of the Clock, said: “This project will enable us to give one of Britain’s most famous landmarks the TLC it so desperately needs and deserves.”