London: The famous Big Ben is going to fall silent for four years for a crucial refurbishment project.
The iconic London landmark will stop chiming from August 21 as the Palace of Westminster’s Elizabeth Tower, which houses the clock, undergoes a series of repairs, the Telegraph reported on Monday.
The hammers which have struck the 13.7 tonne bell every hour for most of the last 157 years will be locked and disconnected from the clock. However, the bell will still strike for important national events such as New Year’s Eve and Remembrance Sunday.
A parliamentary spokesperson said it was necessary to silence the bell to “ensure the safety of those working in the Tower”.
Steve Jaggs, Keeper of the Great Clock, said: “Big Ben falling silent is a significant milestone in this crucial conservation project.
“As Keeper of the Great Clock I have the great honour of ensuring this beautiful piece of Victorian engineering is in top condition on a daily basis.”
The Palace of Westminster on the bank of the River Thames is a world heritage site and major tourist attraction. Jaggs encouraged members of the public to gather in nearby Parliament Square to hear the final bongs next Monday.
The 96-metre-tall Elizabeth Tower is already half enveloped in scaffolding as part of a major renovation project, the report said.
As part of the works, the clock housing Big Ben will be dismantled and each cog examined and restored. The clock’s four dials will be cleaned and repaired, their cast iron framework renewed and the hands removed and refurbished, the Metro reported.
One working clock face will remain visible at all times, telling the time silently and it will be powered by a modern electric motor until the original clockwork mechanism is reinstated.
All the other bells which chime every 15 minutes will be silent as well during the works due to be completed in 2021 when Big Bell’s familiar tolls will begin again.