Big Ben

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Big Ben tower to return to Victorian colour scheme

Artist's impression of Elizabeth Tower

The tower containing Big Ben is to return to its original Victorian colour scheme, which includes the Cross of St George and blue numbers on the clock face, parliamentary authorities have revealed.

An artist's impression showing six shields bearing the red and white English national flag above each dial has been released by the House of Commons Commission.

The blackened dials of the famous clock will also revert to Prussian blue numbers with gold frames filled with white glass as part of the £61m renovation of the Elizabeth Tower. Other areas of black paint around the outside will be gilded.

It is believed that the current colour scheme was adopted in the early 20th century after the Victorian building, designed by Charles Barry, had been blackened by decades of heavy air pollution in London.

Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake, spokesman for the Commission, said the Elizabeth Tower "is not going to be dramatically different".

Regarding the St George's Cross, he said: "It represents what is best about England and the English nature.

"Obviously the Scots, the Welsh and Northern Irish are represented on the tower with the different rosettes that are there representing those countries. So I'm sure they won't object to that," he said.

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Watch: Big Ben clock tower hands removed for maintenance

Paul Murphy-Kasp

BBC London

Big Ben clock tower hands removed for maintenance

The clock hands of Elizabeth Tower have been removed during maintenance and restoration work in the Palace of Westminster.

The tower is undergoing a £61m refurbishment, up from the original estimate of between £29m and £45m.

The clock hands will be replaced with temporary ones while the originals undergo conservation work.