It's one of the world's most famous landmarks, but Big Ben in London is soon going to look - and sound - a whole lot different. It has been revealed that the clock tower will fall silent for up to four years while renovation work takes place - and the final chimes are only a week away.
The Great Bell has chimed on the hour for the past 157 years with almost unbroken service, but it will sound for the last time on the hour at noon next Monday 21 August until renovation work is completed in 2021.
Big Ben is to fall silent until 2021
It is news that is sure to disappoint many tourists and Londoners alike, but authorities have said it is essential for the health and safety of the workers who are restoring the tower. "The chimes are being stopped to provide a safe environment for the people working on the scaffolding," a spokeswoman said. "Constant proximity to the chimes would pose a serious risk to their hearing, and would prevent efficient working."
She continued: "People will be working on the scaffolding day-in day-out throughout the works, and, while protective headgear could be provided, it is not desirable for individuals working at height to have their hearing obscured as there is concern the ability to hear each other and any alarms could be affected."
Renovation work has already begun on the tower
Although the clock will be silent day-to-day, Parliament's specialist clock makers have promised to ensure Big Ben can still chime for important events such as Remembrance Sunday and New Year's Eve.
Not only will the Elizabeth Tower fall silent, but it will also look different too, with much of the tower set to be covered in scaffolding throughout the restoration work. However one working clock face will remain visible throughout - a relief to tourists hoping to get a snap of the iconic tower. Big Ben was recently named the second most popular landmark on Instagram after research showed that the destination hashtag #BigBen had been used over 2.4million times, second only to the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
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