Published: Mon, August 21, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Big Ben bongs to be silenced

Big Ben bongs to be silenced

One clock face will continue to show the correct time throughout the renovations, driven by an electric motor instead of the historic mechanism of the Great Clock, as it is known, which will be dismantled and reassembled cog by cog.

One concession being considered by the House of Commons Commission - which is responsible for the maintenance of the Palace of Westminster - is to allow the bell to chime on special occasions, such as New Year's Eve.

Parliament said it will review plans to silence the Great Bell for four years after Theresa May joined the backlash against the move but the bongs will still be halted after noon on Monday.

Attacking the renovation timetable last week, the Prime Minister said: "Of course we want to ensure people's safety at work but it can't be right for Big Ben to be silent for four years".

Tory MP Conor Burns told BBC Radio 4's Westminster Hour: "I think when you see the footage tomorrow of our colleagues who gather at the foot of Big Ben you will not see too many colleagues who have careers ahead of them".

But Commons authorities could not confirm when the chimes would start up again, or whether Big Ben would bong on Brexit day.

'There seems to be a management failure here and MPs seem to have been left out of this.

But politicians have claimed that when they agreed to the work, they did not know the chimes would be silenced for four years.

He said: 'Why shouldn't there be a round the clock effort to get it done?

If you're travelling in London this week, make sure to keep your ears open for the chimes of London's iconic Big Ben, as the famous bell will fall silent next week and stay that way until 2021.

Big Ben last fell silent in 2007, and before that, for major repairs between 1983 and 1985.

They have dismissed suggestions the chimes could be restored during the hours that work is not being carried out, as the process takes about half a day to complete.

A Commons' spokeswoman said: "As we are now in a procurement process we are unable to comment on projected budget estimates at this stage".

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