Big Ben losing its signature sound for three years

August 14, 2017, 10:02 a.m.
Big Ben clock at night
Photo: arturasker/Shutterstock

Starting next week, tourists visiting London won't have quite the spectacular view of this iconic clock tower, nor will they hear the chimes ring out. The tower will be covered in scaffolding as restoration work begins.

There is much to do for Big Ben that will ensure the historical structure's integrity for future generations, and an array of problems will be addressed. According to the New York Times, "Maintenance teams have identified problems with the clock’s hands, mechanism and pendulum that threaten its ability to function properly, according to a Parliament statement. They also found leaks, erosion, severe rusting and cracked masonry in the tower itself, which does not meet fire safety guidelines."

There will also be an elevator and bathroom installed, and the overall energy efficiency will be enhanced, including adding modern lighting to the tower face. The clock will be taken apart piece-by-piece and its four dials will be cleaned and repaired, according to the BBC.

This is only the third time in the 157 year history of Big Ben that the clock won't chime the hours. However, the BBC reports it will still sound for important major events, like New Year's Eve.

There's no doubt that Londoners and visitors alike will be looking forward to when the much-loved clock and tower are spruced up and ringing once again, which is estimated to happen in 2021.

Editor's note: This story has been updated since it was originally published in April 2016.