The repair of London’s world-famous landmark Big Ben is nearing completion, with the unveiling of a new clockface yesterday.
Scaffolding is progressively being removed from the 320-foot-tall clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster. Since the commencement of construction in 2017, the site has been an eyesore and a disappointment for many tourists hoping to hear its thunderous bells.
The cost of the ‘essential’ upgrades, which were originally estimated to cost a stunning £29 million, has since risen to £80 million. Following off-site restoration, the clock hands were painted to match the original Prussian Blue colour scheme on the clock dials, and they were reattached over the summer.
The black paint around the clock dials has been removed, and various details have been re-gilded. Other essential aspects, such as the row of six shields above each dial that displays St George’s red cross on a white background, have been carried over from Barry’s original design.
Work is scheduled to be completed in 2022, a year later than projected owing to pandemic delays. Big Ben’s chimes were muted in August 2017 to allow for tower work, but have since rung for Brexit and New Year.
The decision to mute the bells was taken to safeguard the hearing of the tower’s personnel, but it prompted strong criticism from a number of MPs, including the then-Prime Minister Theresa May.