Big Ben won't bong until 2022: Restoration is delayed by Covid
Big Ben won’t bong again until 2022: Restoration of Parliament’s Elizabeth Tower that began in 2017 and has already spiralled to £80million cost is delayed further by Covid crisis
- The restoration of the Elizabeth Tower and Big Ben has been further delayed
- Big Ben is not expected to chime again until the summer of 2022 amid covid
- The refurbishment began in 2017 and was originally expected to finish this year
- Work was halted during the coronavirus lockdown which delayed completion
Big Ben will not chime again until 2022 as the restoration of Parliament’s Elizabeth Tower has been further delayed by the coronavirus crisis.
The refurbishment of the Westminster landmark, which began in 2017 and has already spiralled to at least £80 million, was originally expected to be finished this year but was delayed when the Covid-19 lockdown held up work.
The ‘complex task’ of installing the restored clock mechanism will begin this summer, UK Parliament authorities said in a statement.
It added: ‘The Elizabeth Tower conservation project is due to complete in the second quarter of 2022, and Parliament has revealed a number of important milestones that are expected on the project over the next twelve months.
The refurbishment of the Westminster landmark, which began in 2017 and has already spiralled to at least £80 million, was originally expected to be finished this year but was delayed when the Covid-19 lockdown held up work. Pictured, Big Ben
‘These include the removal of further scaffolding, the re-installation of the Great Clock and the return of Big Ben’s world-famous chimes.’
It said the clock hands, which are ‘resplendent in their original Victorian colour scheme’, will be added to the dials and returned to the Tower later this year.
‘Following years of painstaking conservation work, the clock hands, now resplendent in their original Victorian colour scheme, will be added to the clock dials, with the restored mechanism returning to the Tower later in the year.’
The original colour scheme was changed early in the 20th century because the clock face became difficult to read due to soot.
The ‘complex task’ of installing the restored clock mechanism will begin this summer, UK Parliament authorities said in a statement. Pictured, Elizabeth Tower covered in scaffolding
Big Ben’s clock face is getting a blue tinge as the refurbishment works are returning the historic landmark to its original Victorian colour
Workers are seen on scaffolding on Elizabeth Tower at the Houses of Parliament in central London on April 22
History of Big Ben
After the Palace of Westminster was destroyed by a fire in 1834 those in charge of planning the new building decided to create a tower and clock.
The bell necessary for the giant clock had to be large, and John Warner and Sons at Stockton-on-Tees’ first attempt cracked irreparably.
in 1858 the metal was melted down and the bell recast in Whitechapel.
It first rang across Westminster on May 31, 1859 but just months later cracked again.
A lighter hammer had to be fitted and the bell was turned around so an undamaged section could be rung.
Early next year the bells, including Big Ben, will be reconnected to the original Victorian clock mechanism ‘and will ring out across Westminster once again’.
Then the gantry, which has protected the Palace of Westminster throughout the works and supported the complex scaffolding structure, will be removed before the site is fully cleared ahead of summer next year.
The famous bell has been largely silent since 2017 due to repairs on the clock and Parliament’s Elizabeth Tower which houses it, only being reconnected for significant occasions.
In February repair work on Big Ben suffered a major setback after estimated costs soared by more than £18million to almost £80million.
It also emerged specialist timekeepers on site could not repair the historic Elizabeth Tower clock.
The revelations threatened to plunge the project, which had already doubled in cost, into crisis.
The House of Commons Commission said it needed another £18.6million to repair the clock, bell and tower, taking the total to £79.7million.
It blamed the discovery of extensive Second World War bomb damage, pollution and asbestos in the Elizabeth Tower for the price increase.
Specialist craftsmen have been replacing the gold leaf on the clock face, pictured
An interview with site boss Andrew Dobson shows the blue clock figures in the background
The Elizabeth Tower, housing the Big Ben bell, is seen clad in scalffolding, over the Houses of Parliament, in central London in 2017
The body led by the Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said that the tower was in worse condition than realised when the last estimate of £61.1million was made two years ago – more than double the original cost of £29million.
The commission said at the time it still expected work to be finished by the end of this year – but the completion date has now been pushed back by at least six months.
The full scale of the conservation was only revealed once the project team was able to begin intrusive surveys for the first time on the 177-year-old structure, the Commission said.
The last extensive conservation work on the UNESCO World Heritage site were completed between 1983 and 1985.
The tower was designed by architects Charles Barry and Augstus Wellby Pugin.
An important part of the tower’s restoration is to improve fire prevention standards.
Parliament’s team of clock mechanics temporarily disconnected Big Ben and the quarter bells from the clock mechanism and lowered the weights to the base of the tower in order to provide a safe environment for the people working in the Elizabeth Tower.
A bespoke electric mechanism has been built to power the 200kg striking hammer which allowed the bell to sound on New Year’s Eve and Remembrance Sunday.
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