UK parliament’s ‘Big Ben’ falls silent after last bong for four years

Updated: 00:00 GMT, Jan 1, 1970 | Published: 12:29 GMT, Aug 21, 2017 |

The ‘Big Ben’ bell in the British parliament’s famous clock tower struck a final chord on Monday (August 21), before falling silent to allow renovation works to be carried out for the next four years.

Home to parliament, the Palace of Westminster on the bank of the River Thames, is a world heritage site and major tourist attraction. The 96-metre-tall Elizabeth Tower is believed to be the most photographed building in the United Kingdom.

A round of applause from onlookers followed the bell’s last bongs at noon. Some politicians, including Prime Minister Theresa May, had protested the decision to silence the bell, which is part of the soundtrack of daily life in the British capital.

As part of the renovation works, the clock housing ‘Big Ben’ will be dismantled and each cog examined and restored. The hammers which have struck the 13.7 tonne bell every hour for most of the last 157 years will be locked and disconnected from the clock. Its four dials will also be cleaned and repaired.

One working clock face will remain visible at all times, telling the time silently, and it will be powered by a modern electric motor until the original clockwork mechanism is reinstated. The bell will still toll for important events such as New Year’s Eve celebrations but will otherwise remain silent until 2021.