Big Ben Goes Silent Due to Renovation

The hammers which have struck the 13.7-tonne bell in British Parliament's famous clock tower every hour for most of the past 157 years will be locked and disconnected from the clock to ensure the safety of those working on the restoration in the tower.

"This essential programme of works will safeguard the clock on a long-term basis, as well as protecting and preserving its home - the Elizabeth Tower", said Keeper of the Great Clock Steve Jaggs of the renovation.

The 13-ton bell will still sound for special occasions such as New Year's Eve, but parliamentary officials say the bonging must be muted while the fix work is being carried out. She said: "It can't be right for Big Ben to be silent for four years".

A YouGov poll published Saturday found that 44% of Britons believe Big Ben should be silenced during the renovations, except for special occasions, while 41% said it should operate as normal.

Lawmakers had argued against silencing the clock and want the time shortened.

Big Ben, the iconic bell in the Elizabeth Tower of the British Houses of Parliament, has fallen silent.

The House of Commons Commission, which ordered the bongs to be silenced as repairs are carried out, said it will review plans and see if there's a faster way to complete the work.


The roof of the tower will also be stripped off and restored, the bell frame repaired, leaks into the clock room stemmed and a lift installed.

United Kingdom lawmakers and their staff gathered to listen as the Great Bell - the official name for Big Ben - struck noon, clapping after the last chime.

Ealing North MP Stephen Pound, a critic of the plan, has said there will be a small group of MPs "standing there with bowed heads in the courtyard" as Big Ben chimes at midday on 21 August. "They're not going to be back in four years - have you ever known any government project come in on time or on budget?"

The clock's cogs and hands as well as the four dials will be removed, cleaned up and repaired as part of the work.

"Tell these poor little to put a helmet", has reacted in the press the conservative mp Nicholas Soames, grandson of Winston Churchill, in referring to workers whose hearing could be seriously damaged by the 118 decibels of Big Ben. Parliamentary officials said they would ensure that the bell still sounds on major occasions, such as New Year's Eve and Remembrance Sunday. The Commons said starting and stopping the bells took about half a day, so it would not be practical to do it often.

'Nothing could be more symbolic really than Big Ben, which we all remember from the Second World War onwards'.


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