Big Ben roof scaffolding will begin to be removed this week in 'memorable moment'

26 September 2020, 23:41 | Updated: 27 September 2020, 06:48

One of London's most famous landmarks will begin to be revealed this week after three years of extensive renovation.

Scaffolding hiding the roof of the Elizabeth Tower, which houses Big Ben, will begin to be removed over the coming days.

The top of the tower will be visible again but work will continue on the rest of the famous structure.

Taking down the scaffolding will take six weeks and will reveal 3,433 cast iron roof tiles which were removed and repaired in a specialist workshop.

Crumbling stone work and leaks were also fixed as part of the conservation work.

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said: "Like everyone else, I have been looking forward to seeing the scaffolding come down on Elizabeth Tower - so the unveiling of the roof will be a memorable moment.

"We could all do with some good news in this COVID world, so it is very exciting to actually see some more of this great icon.

"I am hoping the conservation work that has taken place on the tower - an important symbol of our democracy - will assure its place in London's skyline for generations to come."

The four-year restoration scheme of the Elizabeth Tower began in 2017 but it has not always been a smooth process.

In February this year it was revealed that the cost of the renovation had risen by almost a third to £79.7m.

The increase has been blamed on the discovery of asbestos, pollution and extensive Second World War bomb damage in the Elizabeth Tower, which houses the famous bell.

At the time, Ian Ailles, director general of the House of Commons, said the works are proving "more complex than we could have anticipated".

The full scale of the work needed to complete the refurbishment by the deadline late in 2021 only became clear after the first "intrusive surveys" on the 177-year-old structure, officials said.

Asbestos was found in the belfry, broken glass in the clock dials and extensive use of toxic lead paint and defects in previous work.