Repairs Silence Big Ben
LONDON.- Big Ben will fall silent for several months while the iconic London clock tower next to the Houses of Parliament undergoes "desperately" needed repairs next year, officials said on Tuesday.
The bell, whose chimes feature on British radio broadcasts, will be silenced as part of the £29 million ($42 million) repairs.
The work will repair the clock faces and mechanism, cracks in the tower's masonry and corrosion in the roof, as well as restoring the edging around the clock faces to their original 19th-century color.
A lift will also be installed as an alternative to the steps up the tower and the lights illuminating the clock will be replaced by low-energy LEDs.
"The clock mechanism will need to be stopped for several months in order to carry out essential maintenance," a House of Commons spokeswoman said.
"During this period there will be no chimes," she said, adding that "striking and tolling" of the bell would continue for marking important occasions.
"Big Ben" is the name of the bell, while the 315-foot (96-metre) tower holding it is the Elizabeth Tower.
It was designed in neo-Gothic style by parliament architect Augustus Pugin and was completed in 1856.
"In order to keep the clock ticking, we must now take the time to thoroughly inspect and restore it," said Steve Jaggs, whose title is "Keeper of the Clock".
"The project will enable us to give one of Britain's most famous landmarks the TLC (tender loving care) it so desperately needs and deserves," he said.
The last time Big Ben’s bells stopped ringing for several months was 40 years ago. The bells were also stopped in 2007, but only for six weeks. Starting next year, the clock will be stopped at different times within the three-year repair period. The bells will still chime for important events.
Today's homepage Featured Art Video, filmed in 1948, shows Big Ben striking 12 o'clock. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y88TCW11SHM&sns=em