Londoners will finally get a proper glimpse of Big Ben for the first time since 2017.
It’s been four long years since Big Ben (yes, fine, the Elizabeth Tower) disappeared under scaffolding, and it’s a bit of an understatement to say that a lot has happened in that time. In fact, the renovations work have been going on for so long that the scaffolding was even added to Big Ben’s likeness on the HP sauce bottles in a canny marketing stunt. Last year, a start was made – as the top of the tower, which houses Big Ben and displays those magnificent clock faces, was unveiled once more.
Now, it has been revealed that Big Ben’s clocks will ring once more next year, as works are finally due to come to a close. Big Ben’s restoration works were initially due to end this year, but delays hit the project due to Covid-19. Parliament authorities have predicted that the fine bells will chime to the capital in the second quarter of 2022.
In a statement, the UK Parliament authorities said: “The Elizabeth Tower conservation project is due to complete in the second quarter of 2022, and Parliament has revealed a number of important milestones that are expected on the project over the next twelve months.
“These include the removal of further scaffolding, the re-installation of the Great Clock and the return of Big Ben’s world-famous chimes.
Following years of painstaking conservation work, the clock hands, now resplendent in their original Victorian colour scheme, will be added to the clock dials, with the restored mechanism returning to the Tower later in the year,”
Restoration work on the tower’s stone work, repairing leaks, and restoring the tower’s 3433 cast iron roof tiles has already been completed, and the upper parts of the scaffolding were removed in October last year. Whilst the lower parts of the tower are still being worked on (and will remain behind the scaffolding for now), the previous development allowed the public to get a proper glimpse of the freshly-painted clock faces, which were returned to their original design.
Perhaps distracted by a neverending parade of other events, its only now that I realise we’re over three-quarters of what will be Big Ben’s five-year renovation process. It’s something nice on the horizon, and with improvements such as sprucing up the interior, improving health and safety systems, and adding a lift, it’ll hopefully be easier than ever to explore arguably London’s most iconic landmark.
Also published on Medium.