Big Ben's bongs are going to be silenced for months

Emma Haslett
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Cleaning Of Big Ben's Clock face
The clock, bell and tower all need work, the House of Commons Commission said (Source: Getty)

One of the capital's most iconic sounds is going to be silenced for several months, as repairs are carried out on the UK's best-known clock tower.

The Houses of Parliament said today that Big Ben's bongs will be no more - for several months, anyway - while vital repairs are carried out to the tower.

Meanwhile, the Elizabeth Tower, which houses Big Ben (it's the bell that's called Big Ben, not the tower), will be shrouded in scaffolding for months, as three years of repairs begin.

Read more: In pictures - London's skyline blacked out

As part of that, the statement said, the pendulum will be removed from the clock tower, silencing Big Ben's famous bongs - although one clock face will always be visible through the scaffolding.


  • Work on cracked plasterwork, rust and damp
  • New lift to replace abseiling rig for evacuation
  • Replacement of cracked bell frame
  • Bearings in joints holding hands onto dials "need attention" 
  • 312 pieces of pot opal glass used to make up each clock face to be renewed
  • Address concerns over pendulum's accuracy

"There are concerns about the pendulum's accuracy, and the suspension spring, which holds the pendulum in place, needs to be replaced.

"In order to diagnose and fix these issues, it will be necessary to stop the clock and remove the pendulum."

"While the tower itself is structurally sound and does not require works to improve its stability, other works are now a matter of urgency. Cracks have developed in the masonry, the cast iron work on the roof and belfry is corroding, and leaks have caused damage internally.

"There is evidence of serious condensation, leading to problems with damp, cracked plasterwork and rust. Corrosion to the bell frame has caused one of the feet supporting the quarter bells and Big Ben to split.

"Stonework damage is present at high levels and the famous Ayrton Light, which tops the Tower and shines to indicate that Parliament is sitting, needs to be fully dismantled and restored."

"The Elizabeth Tower is a symbol of the UK’s democratic heritage and forms part of a Unesco World Heritage Site," added Tom Brake, spokesman for the House of Commons Commission.

"We have a duty to ensure that it is safeguarded for future generations to appreciate, just as we owe it to our predecessors to restore their masterpiece to its former glory. While these works are much needed in the short-term, they will also ensure the long-term future and sustainability of Big Ben.”