Big Ben’s bongs to fall silent during restoration work

London landmark, Big Ben clock tower and the Houses of Parliament | Big Ben’s Bongs
London landmark, Big Ben clock tower and the Houses of Parliament, view from above at dusk. Credit: Julian Elliott/VisitBritain

The iconic sound of Big Ben’s bongs will not be heard in London until 2021 as essential restoration work is carried out to Westminster’s Elizabeth Tower

They are recognised the world over as a symbol of London but now the sound of Big Ben’s famous bongs will fall silent in the capital for four years.

The Great Bell, fondly called Big Ben, weighs 13.7 tonnes and was cast by the historic Whitechapel Bell Foundry in 1858.

Big Ben strikes every hour to the note of E and is accompanied by four quarter bells, which chime every 15 minutes. The huge bell has marked the hour in London almost continuously for the past 157 years with brief pauses while maintenance has been carried out to the bell, its historic tower and the Great Clock.

Conservation work is currently being undertaken to the Elizabeth Tower, which is home to the Great Clock and Big Ben. As part of the conservation work, the Great Clock will be dismantled piece by piece, with each cog examined and each of its four clock faces cleaned. One clock face will remain visible at all times during restoration works.

Steve Jaggs, Keeper of the Great Clock, said: “Big Ben falling silent is a significant milestone in this crucial conservation project. As Keeper of the Great Clock I have the great honour of ensuring this beautiful piece of Victorian engineering is in top condition on a daily basis. This essential programme of works will safeguard the clock on a long term basis, as well as protecting and preserving its home – the Elizabeth Tower. Members of the public are welcome to mark this important moment by gathering in Parliament Square to hear Big Ben’s final bongs until they return in 2021.”

Big Ben will sound for the last time until 2021 on Monday 21 August at noon.

Read about the history of Big Ben