Big Ben to fall silent in London next week for repairs

Cleaning and maintenance of the Great Clock at the Palace of Westminster

It has chimed the note of E on the hour, every hour, nearly uninterrupted for more than 150 years, but next Monday at noon Big Ben will fall silent until 2021. The four dials will be carefully cleaned, the glass repaired, the cast iron framework renewed, and the hands will be removed and refurbished.

Because the clock mechanism will be temporarily out of action, a modern electric motor will drive the clock hands until the clock is reinstated.

Clock mechanics who now work on Big Ben wear defenders but are only exposed to the bells for short period of time 'constant proximity to the chimes would pose a serious risk to their hearing, and would prevent efficient working'.

Such measures have been taken to preserve the hearing of workers who are to restore the Elizabeth tower in the Palace of Westminster.

London's iconic Big Ben tower clock will toll for the last time for four years at noon Monday as part of a multi-billion pound refurbishment program at the Palace of Westminster.

However, it will still sound for important events including New Year's Eve and Remembrance yesterday.

"Big Ben falling silent is a significant milestone in this crucial conservation project", Keeper of the Great Clock Steve Jaggs said in the statement. It weighs 13.7 tonnes.

The current Big Ben is actually the second Bell manufactured for the tower.

The repairs will mark only the third time in 157 years that there has been a long-term break in the bonging, with the previous pauses taking place in 2007 and from 1983 to 1985 - both for maintenance work.

An earlier bell, cast in 1856, was irreparably damaged thanks to the original striking hammer being too heavy.



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