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After 157 years of unbroken service, Big Ben will fall silent – find out why

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Tourists and locals will no longer be able to hear the familiar chimes of Big Ben on a frequent basis, starting from 2017 for a period of three years. The iconic London landmark is going under repair and refurbishment for £29million.

Parliament has announced that urgent works need to be carried out on the UK's most famous clock, Big Ben, and the tower that houses it, the Elizabeth Tower, to ensure that the clock continues to keep time and that degradation of the building does not occur.

It has been over 31 years since extensive works last took place.

big ben1 © Photo: Getty Images

Urgent works need to be carried out on the UK's most famous clock

Problems have been identified with the clock hands, mechanism and pendulum which need to be dealt with immediately so that the clock remains in working order.

Because of this, the clock mechanism will need to be stopped for several months while maintenance is carried out. There will be no chiming or striking during this period, although striking and tolling will be maintained for important events.

The clock will still tell the correct time apart from when its hands, bearings, gears and drive mechanism are under repair, which is hoped to be for as short a time as possible.

big ben2 © Photo: Getty Images

The last extensive works took place 31 years ago

As for the tower, cracks in masonry, leaks, erosion, and severe rusting of metalwork have been identified as areas of concern.

The tower – which was renamed the Elizabeth Tower in 2012 to honour the Queen's Diamond Jubilee – also needs to be brought in line with fire prevention guidance.

A lift will therefore be installed within the shaft of the tower to provide a better means of emergency evacuation. It will not be part of the visitor experience, which involves climbing 334 steps.

big ben3 © Photo: Getty Images

Striking and tolling will only be maintained for important events

Completed in 1856, the tower was designed by architects Charles Barry and Augustus Wellby Pugin.

Parliament's team of conservation architects is currently analysing the original paint colour and once this has been established, the stonework will be repainted to reflect the original design. The existing black and gold colouring around the clock dials was applied in the 1980s.

big ben4 © Photo: Getty Images

The renovation project will cost £29million

Money to fund the £29million project will come from the Medium Term Investment Plan of the Parliamentary Estates.

Work is scheduled to begin in early 2017 for a duration of three years. Specialist scaffolding will need to be erected, although the clock dials will hopefully be visible for as long as possible during the renovation.

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