Aug. 14 (UPI) — Big Ben, the iconic bell within London’s Palace of Westminster, will be silent for four years while renovations to its clock and tower are performed, the House of Commons announced.
The 13.7-ton bell is formally known as the Great Bell. Its quarter-hourly chiming is symbolic of London and of Britain. It will stop ringing at noon on Aug. 21 for the safety of workers restoring the bell and the 314-foot tall Elizabeth Tower in which it resides.
Parliament members are mulling over how to approach a complete restoration of the Palace of Westminster. The complex of buildings, which includes parliament, dates to the 19th century and has significant structural, plumbing, ventilation and electrical flaws. A complete restoration could take 40 years and cost $7.4 billion.
Big Ben will still chime on holidays, including New Year’s Eve. It has rung continuously for 157 years, except for brief periods of repair. The four-sided clock, which is driven by an electric motor, will continue to tell time.
“Big Ben falling silent is a significant milestone in this crucial conservation project,” Keeper of the Great Clock Steve Jaggs said in a statement from the House of Commons. “This essential program of works will safeguard the clock on a long-term basis.”