The famous chimes will stop until 2021 while repairs are made to the tower
As one of the UK’s most photographed spots, a trip to London isn’t complete without a visit to the city’s iconic bell tower. However as of next week, the famous chimes of Big Ben will be silenced for four years.
The final chimes will ring on Monday 21 August, and they will fall quiet until 2021. There will be a couple of exceptions though – the bell will still ring on New Year’s Eve and Remembrance Sunday.
This is part of a major restoration project in which essential repair work will be carried out on the Grade I listed Queen Elizabeth Tower, home to Big Ben. The bell is being disconnected to ensure the safety of workers during the £29 million reparations.
The 13.7-tonne bell has chimed hourly, with only a few exceptions, since 31 May 1859. Big Ben last fell silent for maintenance in 2007, and prior to that during a major revamp between 1983 and 1985, however this is expected to be the longest period of silence since the chimes began 158 years ago.
The project’s principal architect, Adam Watrobski, told the BBC that, as well as essential maintenance to the 315ft tower, the works will install new amenities including a lift, toilet and kitchen. The building will also be made more energy efficient.
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Steve Jaggs, keeper of the Great Clock, said that the mechanism will be dismantled piece by piece and its four dials will be cleaned and repaired. Scaffolding will reportedly obscure the clock faces for some of the project, however Parliamentary officials have reassured the public that one of its four faces will always be visible. So if you were planning a visit to London and want to get a photo of this iconic landmark, don’t be disheartened!