Big Ben will stop chiming for three years starting early next year.
The famous bell and its clock tower in the Palace of Westminster need an overhaul and a facelift.
The iconic clock of Parliament will stop making a bong sound every 15 minutes from 2017 as engineers start a £29m restoration programme on House of Commons’ Queen Elizabeth Tower.
The 160-year-old tower, which is a Unesco World Heritage site, will undergo £29 million of work to increase energy efficiency and redecorate the interior of the building.
The work will affect both the clock’s mechanism and the tower itself. “During this period there will be no chimes,” a spokesperson for the House of Commons said. The repairs are scheduled to take three years, during which the bell will be silenced for several months.
“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 last “extensive” conservation works were carried out between 1983 and 1985 . The tower – often incorrectly referred to as Big Ben, which is the name of the largest bell – was completed in 1856 and began timekeeping on May 31, 1859.
Steve Jaggs, the Keeper of the Clock, said that staff members complete maintenance on the clock each day but the works will give it “the TLC it so desperately needs and deserves”.
During the work at least one face of the clock – described as being in a “chronic state” – will be on show at all times.
“Problems have been identified with the clock hands, mechanism and pendulum, which need to be dealt with immediately to ensure that the clock can continue to work properly,” a guide to the work explained. A conservation team from Parliament has been analysing the original paint used to decorate the surrounds of each clock dial and the stonework around them will be repainted once a similar colour has been recreated.
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