Friday, 24 November, 2017

Big Ben will ring at noon, then fall silent until 2021

London to lose Big Ben's iconic bongs for years Britain's Big Ben to fall silent for four years
Christy Curtis | 22 August, 2017, 01:27

Big Ben, which has been marking the passage of time in London since 1859, rang for the final time at noon on August 21.

Last week's announcement that Big Ben will be silenced for four long years sparked a backlash from some politicians and sections of the British media.

Last week, Parliament said it would review the plans to silence the chimes for four years after the Prime Minister joined an MPs' outcry against the move.

"Starting and stopping Big Ben is a complex and lengthy process", the House of Commons said in a statement last week, noting several parts of the bell mechanism need to be dismantled.

It will be disconnected and will sound more the hours as it had done since 158 years nearly without interruption, accompanied by a carillon of four bells smaller for the quarters of an hour.

"The reaction of many MPs to the "silencing" of Big Ben is utterly embarrassing and drives home the disconnect between Westminster (and) beyond", wrote Twitter user, William Booth.

This is not the first time Big Ben has fallen silent, in 1916 during World War I, the bell went silent and the clock's face was not illuminated at night to avoid attacks from German Zeppelins.

Officially called the Elizabeth Tower, the 96-metre-tall clock tower housing Big Ben is believed to be the most photographed building in the United Kingdom.

However, it will still sound on big occasions such as New Year's Day and Remembrance Sunday.

The bongs are a venerated marker of British life, used at the start of radio and television newscasts, and a focus for national occasions and the midnight countdown to New Year's Day.

To protect the hearing of the workers carrying out the repairs the clock will not strike the time throughout the duration of the refurbishment. It was damaged, but the clock kept on ticking, and the bell continued chiming.

MPs who approved the £29m renovation project claim they weren't informed that Big Ben would be out of action for so long.

They want the timescale for repairs tightened, and House of Commons officials say they will take another look at the schedule once Parliament returns next month from its summer break.

Big Ben is actually the moniker for the Grand Bell located inside the Elizabeth Tower.

The Great Bell of Big Ben has chimed across London since July 11, 1859, and, though it has occasionally been halted for fix or maintenance, this will be the longest period of silence in the bell's history.

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