Big Ben chimes for the last time

Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. Big ben’s chimes sound for last time in four years
Credit: UK Parliament

Today the famous Big Ben chimes rang out for the last time before being silenced for four years during essential restoration work

Crowds gathered in Parliament Square today to hear the familiar Big Ben chimes for the last time in four years.

Following the announcement last week that Big Ben’s bongs will fall silent for four years, some MPs have voiced concerns that the silence is exceedingly long.

Workers on Big Ben’s clock face. Big Ben’s chimes sound for last time in four years
Credit: UK Parliament/Stephen Pike

The reason behind the long-term silence is to protect the hearing and safety of workers on the giant bell, its tower and clock faces, who could become startled by the 118 decibel bongs.

Suggestions that the chimes could be restored outside working hours have been rebuffed as impractical as the process of reconnecting them takes half a day.

However, following huge public outcry, the House of Commons Commission said it will be considering the length of time the giant bell needs to be out of action.

A statement from the House of Commons said: “In light of concerns expressed by a number of MPs, the House of Commons Commission will consider the length of time that the bells will fall silent. Of course, any discussion will focus on undertaking the work efficiently, protecting the health and safety of those involved, and seeking to ensure resumption of normal service as soon as is practicable given those requirements.”

Plans are already in place to ensure that Big Ben will chime for key events such as New Year’s Eve and Remembrance Day.