London

Big Ben to fall silent for repairs

Big ben Image copyright Getty Images

Big Ben is to fall silent for the first time since 2007 for a renovation project.

The work, which will begin early in the new year, will cost £29m and involve repairs to the clock's hands, mechanism and pendulum.

The "Big Ben" bell after which the Palace of Westminster's Elizabeth Tower is more commonly known will fall silent to allow the work to take place.

The work is part of a three-year restoration project.

The bells will not ring for several months as part of the restoration work, although it is not yet known when this is likely to happen. They will toll for important events like Remembrance Day and New Year's Eve.

Parliamentary officials said the mechanism of the clock was in a "chronic state", with fears that it may fail if work is not carried out urgently. There are also concerns that the fabric of the tower itself is reaching an "acute" condition.

A lift will be installed and the 157-year-old tower will be upgraded to bring it into line with modern health and safety standards. The lift will provide greater access for disabled people who are unable to climb the tower's 334 steps.

It is more than 30 years since the last significant conservation work took place on Big Ben, between 1983 and 1985.

Clock faces will be covered, although at least one will remain visible at any time.

Final tours of the tower were taking place on Friday.

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