September 15, 2017
The Big Ben, Silent Until 2021
Big Ben, the beloved landmark of London, has recently fallen silent for repair work. The familiar hourly bongs of Big Ben last resonated on Monday 21st of August, and it is expected to remain silent until 2021.
After more than one and a half century of almost uninterrupted service, the hammer of Big Ben was disconnected after the final tolls of the clock at noon. Although the bell is scheduled to remain silent until 2021, it will still chime to the delight of all Londoners and tourists for popular events such as Remembrance Sunday and New Year’s Eve.
The Parliament heritage team started the renovation of the Elizabeth Tower earlier this year. And it is this very same tower that houses the bell of Big Ben. Part of the renovation program include the restoration of the iconic tower clock, where each of dials will be repaired and cleaned. One working clock will however remain visible and driven at all times by an electric motor. A conservation program has also been set into place cast-iron roof of the tower and the Ayrton light which glows during parliamentary sessions.
Did you know that the 13.7-ton Big Ben bell, chime for the first time on the 11th of July 1859? The renovation cost of this UNESCO World Heritage Site is expected to be around £36 million. After the work is completed, this Victorian engineering masterpiece will hopefully clime for another century and more.
The main reason as to why Big Ben has fallen silent is for the health and safety of the renovation workers. In the past, Big Ben went silent on a few occasions, but not for such a long period. During World War One, the chime of the bell was stopped for two year, as it was feared that zeppelin German pilots would hear it. In 1976, metal fatigue caused the chime to stop for nine month, and it was the only time the bell broke. The last time it went quiet for a couple of weeks was in 2007, when urgent maintenance was required.
With or without its chime, Big Ben will remain as one of the most iconic tourist attraction in London!