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Big Ben falls silent for essential conservation works from 21 August

14 August 2017

Image of UK Parliament portcullis

On Monday 21 August at noon Big Ben’s bongs will temporarily cease. To mark this important step in the critical conservation of the Elizabeth Tower, everyone is invited to join us in Parliament Square to hear the Great Bell strike midday.

While vital restoration work takes place, the Great Bell’s world famous strikes and the chimes of the quarter bells will be paused for several years to ensure the safety of those working in the Tower.

Steve Jaggs, Keeper of the Great Clock

“Big Ben falling silent is a significant milestone in this crucial conservation project. This essential programme of works will safeguard it on a long term basis, as well as protecting and preserving the Elizabeth Tower.”

Big Ben has marked the hour with almost unbroken service for the past 157 years. The bell last fell silent for maintenance in 2007, and prior to that between 1983-5 as part of a previous large scale refurbishment programme.

What will happen

To stop the bells the striking hammers will be locked and the bells disconnected from the clock mechanism, allowing the Great Clock to continue telling the time silently. Parliament’s expert clock mechanics will ensure that Big Ben can still bong, and the quarter bells chime, for important national events such as New Year’s Eve and Remembrance Sunday.

Whilst the Great Clock and the dials are undergoing conservation, it will be necessary to cover the faces for some time. However, to ensure that the public are still able to set their watches by this most important of time pieces, one working clock face will remain visible at all times throughout the works. As the clock mechanism itself will be temporarily out of action, a modern electric motor will drive the clock hands.

Further Information