Big Ben to Be Silenced for Repairs

LONDON (dpa/TNS) -
TheElizabeth Tower, which houses the Big Ben bell in London. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
TheElizabeth Tower, which houses the Big Ben bell in London. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Big Ben, the bell inside the famous clock tower at Britain’s Parliament, will fall silent for several months during a $42 million refurbishment, parliamentary officials said Tuesday.

A three-year program of repairs to the 160-year-old, 300-foot Elizabeth Tower will involve experts adjusting the clock from early next year to fix problems that “cannot be rectified whilst the clock is in action.”

Most of the tower will be covered in scaffolding during the repairs but, because it is one of London’s best-known landmarks, workers will ensure that at least one clock face is visible at all times.

“Every day our team of highly skilled clock mechanics cares for this Victorian masterpiece but, in order to keep the clock ticking, we must now take the time to thoroughly inspect and restore it,” said Steve Jaggs, the keeper of the clock.

“This project will enable us to give one of Britain’s most famous landmarks the TLC it so desperately needs and deserves,” Jaggs said.

Tom Brake, a member of Parliament and spokesperson for the House of Commons Commission, said the Elizabeth Tower was “a symbol of the U.K.’s democratic heritage.”

“While these works are much needed in the short-term, they will also ensure the long-term future and sustainability of Big Ben,” Brake said.