"This essential programme of works will safeguard the clock on a long term basis."
The London attraction Big Ben will become silent, with no bongs, until 2021. The landmark will undergo restoration work, meaning it will have to be quiet so workers can complete the repairs.
The bells of Big Ben will go silent from next week, beginning on Monday 21st August 2017. The final time they will bong to announce the new hour will be at midday.
Afterwards, they will remain silent, except to mark major events such as New Year’s Eve and Remembrance Sunday, until 2021.
For the next four years, workers will disconnect the bells so they can start repairs on the clock and surrounding tower. By making Big Ben silent, it will protect the workers and ensure the restoration work will go smoothly.
Steve Jaggs, the clock’s keeper, marked this period as a “significant milestone” in the tower’s repairs. He added:
“I have the great honour of ensuring this beautiful piece of Victorian engineering is in top condition on a daily basis. This essential programme of works will safeguard the clock on a long term basis, as well as protecting and preserving its home – the Elizabeth Tower.”
For 157 years, Big Ben has chimed its bells to announce the passing hour. Only in 2007 and between 1983 to 1985 has the tower fallen silent. No doubt many London tourists and commuters will notice the attraction’s unusual quietness.
However, it will now experience an array of repairs, which has already begun. Adam Watrobski, the principal architect, revealed that the landmark will receive new additions, including a lift, toilet and kitchen. Workers will also improve the building to make it more energy efficient.
In addition, as part of the restoration work, the Great Clock will become dismantled in order for a clean and repair. The Ayrton Light, which only shines to mark Parliament sitting, will also be renovated.
These set of repairs to Big Ben features as part of wider work needed for the Parliament building. A programme has also been put forward, which involves moving MPs to a temporary location for restoration to take place on the wider estate.
With just a week to go until the London attraction becomes silent, preparations are taking place for the big change.
For example, BBC Radio 4, which records the bells’ chimes live, will broadcast pre-recording while Big Ben falls silent. After looking at alternative options, the radio station felt this “offers the most reliable and resilient option”.
From Monday 21st August 2017, the Houses of Parliament will become a quieter place after the bells chime for a final time until 2021.