Big Ben bongs for final time as restoration plan begins

Big Ben bongs for final time as restoration plan begins

Big Ben, the great clock bell of Britain's Parliament, will fall silent today as a four-year restoration project gets underway.

In order to protect the ears of the construction workers dispatched to carry out the four-year-long repairs from Big Ben's deafening toll, the bell will chime one last time Monday, August 21st, falling silent until 2021.

Before the last chimes sounded, local media, residents and tourists held video recorders or smart phones, waiting for the moment. "The need to close it down for four years is nonsense".

BIG BEN'S famous bongs have marked the hour in London with nearly unbroken service for the past 157 years. "And now all of a sudden that will be stopped and it's sort of really weird feeling". The hammer that strikes the bell each hour weights 200 kg.

Hugh Robertson, the TUC union's health and safety expert, said it would be unsafe to expect workers to complete their jobs while the bell continued to ring.

The 13.7-tonne Great Bell has sounded on the hour for 157 years and last fell silent in 2007.

'As a member of the administration committee I think this is very disappointing'.

The Commons Speaker's wife, Sally, has previously admitted finding life in a taxpayer-funded flat beside the clock tower "incredibly sexy". He added that if they do, "people could read into the ringing of those bells either a celebration, or perhaps the alternative".

For many Britons, the four-year silence of the symbolic bell seems unacceptable.

It is thought that the bell was originally to be called Royal Victoria in honour of Queen Victoria but Londoners started calling the bell "Big Ben" and the name stuck.

The bongs have been silenced as part of a controversial renovation plan of Elizabeth Tower, which houses the clock.

Some have argued that silencing the iconic bell during renovation work is unnecessary. Bercow chairs a powerful committee that has sanctioned the work program.

They want the timescale for repairs tightened, and House of Commons officials say they will take another look at the schedule once Parliament returns next month from its summer break.

The panel of politicians responsible for the maintenance of Parliament's buildings has said it will review the arrangements following the backlash, but will still ensure worker safety is prioritised.

Parliament also said that the clock's faces would have to be covered up while they are being repaired.

Even more scathing was Tory MP Conor Burns, who suggested that most of MPs anxious about Big Ben were has-beens.


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