SInce 1859, Big Ben has been the pulse of London! It is by far the most important and iconic clock tower in the world! The tower and the clock or the “Great Bell” as it’s referred to is going under rennovation for four years! The goal of this renovation is to repair and conserve the tower, upgrade facilities as necessary, and to ensure its integrity for future generations. The last major reconstruction work was carried out to the tower over 30 years ago in 1983-85. The most significant addition to the tower in the forthcoming works will be the addition of an elevator. Currently, the only way to get to the belfry is by using the 334 step circular staircase.
This rennovation starts this month, beggining with Big Ben’s chimes being silenced on 21 August at 12 noon. Essential maintenance will be carried out on the clock mechanism, which will be stopped for several months, during which there will be no chimes. Striking and tolling will however be maintained for important events such as New Year’s Eve and Remembrance Sunday. Big Ben will resume striking and tolling in 2021.
The 28 lightbulbs behind each clock face will be replaced with energy efficient LED bulbs that can change color, so the clock tower can be tinted to mark major celebrations or commemorations. A report released in 2015 said the 19th-century neo-Gothic structure needed major repairs that could cost up to 7 billion pounds ($11 billion) to remove the risk of a “catastrophic failure.” One option under discussion would see lawmakers move out for up to six years while the work is done. As much as there are people up in arms that the “Great Bell” will be silenced, it’s a small price to pay for future generations to appreciate and enjoy it for many more years to come!