Big Ben will fall silent from noon today until 2021

 
Emma Haslett
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Cleaning Of Big Ben's Clock face
The Elizabeth Tower will undergo a massive renovation. (Source: Getty)

Big Ben's bongs are being banished for four years as the world's most iconic clock undergoes vital maintenance.

The clock will sound for the last time at midday today before being silenced until 2021, as the Elizabeth Tower, which houses the clock, undergoes renovation work.

A parliamentary spokesperson said it was necessary to silence the Great Bell to "ensure the safety of those working in the Tower".

“I have the great honour of ensuring this beautiful piece of Victorian engineering is in top condition on a daily basis," said Steve Jaggs, keeper of the Great Clock.

"This essential programme of works will safeguard the clock on a long term basis, as well as protecting and preserving its home – the Elizabeth Tower. Members of the public are welcome to mark this important moment by gathering in Parliament Square to hear Big Ben’s final bongs until they return in 2021.”

To silence the bell, the striking hammers will be locked, while the bell will be disconnected from the clock mechanism. However, the bell will still strike for important national events such as New Year's Eve and Remembrance Sunday.

The restoration work is part of an urgently-needed overhaul of the Houses of Parliament which is expected to take six years and cost £7.5bn.

In numbers: Big Ben

Big Ben, aka the Great Bell, weighs just under 14 tonnes and strikes every hour to the note of E. The chimes Londoners hear every 15 minutes are four "quarter bells", which will also be silenced. Although the bell has struck the hour almost without fail for 157 years, it last fell silent for maintenance in 2007, and before that, during refurbishment which took place between 1983 and 1985.

Read more: Now people want to move the Houses of Parliament to Bristol

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