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9 June 2019, 16:00
On Monday 21 August 2017 following the 12 noon chimes Big Ben’s bongs stopped, but only temporarily. Visitors to London hoping to get a selfie with the iconic clock tower are out of luck as Big Ben undergoes refurbishment.
Vital restoration is required and for this the famous bell must stop chiming to ensure the safety of those working in the tower. However, Parliament’s specialist clock mechanics will ensure that Big Ben can still bong for important national events such as New Year’s Eve and Remembrance Sunday.
Specialist teams regularly maintain the clock and tower, however the structure is suffering from problems common in buildings of the same age. And, the last time significant work was carried was in 1983-85.
Photos, taken in 2017, show peeling paintwork and chipped masonry in the stairwell inside the tower, one of Britain's most cherished tourist attractions.
The conservation works will make repairs inside and out, conserve elements of the tower as originally designed, redecorate the interior, make healthy and safety improvements including a new lift, as well as improve energy efficiency to reduce the tower's environmental impact.
Construction started in 2017 and the programme of works is expected to complete by 2021.
The scaffolding is required during the entire period of the renovation to provide workers with access to the external parts of the tower. The upper section of the Tower will be uncovered as the project progresses.
It will be necessary to cover the clock dials while carrying out repair work and maintenance to the glass, and metalwork, and whilst removing the hands, according to Parliament.
"We will aim to cover the dials in succession, each one for as short a time as possible. Throughout the project we will aim to ensure at least one working clock face is visible."