Big Ben is back telling the time – and the bongs will soon ring out again | Politics News

An £80m makeover of Big Ben is nearly complete, restoring the world’s most famous clock face to its original Victorian glory.

The five-year restoration of the Elizabeth Tower involved extensive scaffolding, 500 workers and ended up running £51m over budget.

The clock’s iconic dials have been restored to their original colour – Prussian blue – after experts discovered the shade under layers of black paint. The lights behind the clock-face were once powered by gas but have now been switched with energy efficient LEDs.

Seven hundred pieces of stone have been replaced – all of them carved on site. Cracks in the masonry have been mended, leaks stopped, and the effects of erosion and rusting repaired. The inside of the building has also been redecorated, and a lift and toilet installed.

“It is a precious part of the UK’s heritage and maybe even the world’s heritage,” said Matthew Hamlyn, chair of the Elizabeth Tower Project Board.

“For the century-and-a-half or more it has been chiming, it has been a symbol of stability. And I think it has become a symbol of the UK’s parliamentary democracy. We owed it to our Victorian forbears who created this amazing place to bring it back to the best condition and make it fit for the 21st Century.”

The tower was designed by Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin and completed in 1859 during the reign of Queen Victoria, when many were obsessed with watches and the standardisation of time. It was damaged during the Blitz, by a century-and-a-half of London pollution and weather. Asbestos was also discovered.

One piece of the clock that has not been moved is its biggest bell: Big Ben. The clock’s entire mechanism has, however, been given an upgrade.

big Ben
Serviced, painted, repaired: Restoration of the Elizabeth Tower, known as Big Ben, is almost complete

Sky's Joe Pike at the top of Big Ben
Sky’s Joe Pike gets to look inside the tower

“We’ve taken every single nut and bolt apart, taken everything apart from the big frame out of the tower, and looked at every part, serviced it, painted it, repaired it,” said clock mechanic Ian Westworth.

“And now we are in the process of bringing every part back and slowly reassembling the clock.”

Public tours of the Elizabeth Tower are expected to resume in the winter.

Source link

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: