The Parliament of the United Kingdom has announced a series of renovations that will take place on Elizabeth Tower and Big Ben in London, starting in early 2017. During the renovation period, the tower and clock will be partially covered with scaffolding, which will be removed as the work progresses. Moreover, the clock mechanism will be stopped for several months, during which there will be no chiming or striking of the iconic bells.
The last significant conservation work on the Tower and Clock was completed in the mid 1980s and 1990s, and involved cleaning and repairing the stone, painting and gilding works, repairing the cast iron roof, and stabilizing the structure. Now, after many years without repairs, the clock mechanism is at risk of failure, and the building is at risk of long-term degradation.
Furthermore, the renovations will include improvements to health and fire safety, such as the installation of an elevator inside one of the Tower’s existing ventilation shafts to compliment the 334-step spiral staircase. Enhanced energy efficiency will additionally be created through modernized lighting of the tower face.
Overall, the 29-million-pound project seeks to preserve Charles Barry and Augustus Wellby Pugin’s original design as best as possible. A team of conservation architects is currently analyzing the original paint used to decorate the areas surrounding each clock dial, and once a clear picture of early color schemes has been built up, the stonework will be painted to reflect Pugin’s original design.
The work to the Tower and Clock is not a part of the larger, more controversial Palace of Westminster Restoration and Renewal Program that is set to start in the 2020s.
Work on the Tower and Clock will begin in early 2017, and is expected to extend about three years. Learn more about the project here.
News via the United Kingdom Parliament.