Big Ben is BACK! Last remaining face of iconic Westminster clock now restored and is showing the correct time once more after its five-year long refurbishment
- Over the past five years, the 96-metre tower and clockwork have undergone an enormous repair project
- The bell at the world-famous London landmark was barely rung while the tower was covered in scaffolding
- The last remaining face has now been fully restored to its former glory – and showing the correct time
The last remaining face of Big Ben has now been fully restored to its former glory – and showing the correct time – after its refurbishment.
Over the past five years, the 96-metre tower and the clockwork and bell mechanism within it have undergone the biggest repair and conservation project in its history.
The bell at the world-famous London landmark was barely rung while the tower was covered in scaffolding – which was removed in late 2021, revealing a view of the clock face’s restored original paint colour.
When black paint was stripped away from the dials during repair work earlier this year, it was discovered that it was originally painted in a dark hue known as Prussian blue.
In January this year Big Ben’s iconic clock faces caused some confusion as baffled passersby noticed that one of the four dials was stuck at 12 o’clock. Photographs of the four newly-restored clock faces on the Palace of Westminster’s Elizabeth Tower showed hands on the west dial jammed at 12 o’clock.
The final face has now been restored and is showing the correct time.
The last remaining face (left) of Big Ben has now been fully restored to its former glory and is now showing the correct time after its refurbishment
Pictured today. Over the past five years, the 96-metre tower and the clockwork and bell mechanism within it have undergone the biggest repair and conservation project in its history
2017: The refurbishment of the Westminster landmark, which began in 2017, was delayed when the Covid-19 lockdown held up work
2021: Six of the new St George’s flag shields are seen under the scaffolding on the East Dial of the Elizabeth Tower in London
In January this year Big Ben’s iconic clock faces caused some confusion as baffled passersby noticed that one of the four dials was stuck at 12 o’clock. Photographs of the four newly-restored clock faces on the Palace of Westminster’s Elizabeth Tower showed hands on the west dial jammed at 12 o’clock
The Houses of Parliament’s famous clock tower struck 12 times to welcome in the New Year, with all clock faces on display for the first time since 2017
The west dial, which faces Parliament Square and St James’ Park, was halted to prevent any damage to the hands and mechanism while dusty works were ongoing as part of the £80million restoration scheme.
One picture taken from the north side of London landmark saw one of the iconic clocks displaying the correct time, while the west dial was stuck at 12 o’clock.
The Houses of Parliament’s famous clock tower struck 12 times to welcome in the New Year, with all clock faces on display for the first time since 2017.
But only the East Dial, which faces the River Thames, on the 160-year-old tower was illuminated to bring the new year in.
The chimes on December 31 marked the final occasion that Big Ben would be struck using a temporary mechanism, which was installed after the great clock was removed to protect it from dust and debris created by works on the Elizabeth Tower.
The temporary device has been used over the past years while the restoration works were ongoing – and the original Victorian mechanism is being brought back into use in Spring 2022.
Teams across the UK – including the Cumbria Clock Company – were involved in reviving the much-adored timepiece and bringing back its signature ‘bong’, which first rang out around London in 1923.
The West dial had been stationary at 12 o’clock since the scaffolding (pictured) was removed, while the North and South dials have been showing the correct time for weeks
Big Ben stands near Parliament Square in London, April 27, 2021. The clock was designed and installed in 1859, with the aim of creating the most accurate public timepiece in the world
Workers are seen on scaffolding on Elizabeth Tower at the Houses of Parliament in central London on April 22
The Elizabeth Tower, housing the Big Ben bell, is seen clad in scalffolding, over the Houses of Parliament, in central London in 2017
The task has been particularly painstaking given that neither the original designer, Edmund Beckett Denison, nor installer, Edward John Dent, kept detailed records of how it was constructed.
The clock was designed and installed in 1859, with the aim of creating the most accurate public timepiece in the world.
From spring, Big Ben and the four quarter bells will once again sound out the famous Westminster Quarters melody and resonant bongs throughout the day – the first time they have done so since the restoration began in 2017.
The last extensive conservation work on the UNESCO World Heritage site were completed between 1983 and 1985.
The tower was designed by architects Charles Barry and Augstus Wellby Pugin.
An important part of the tower’s restoration is to improve fire prevention standards.
Parliament’s team of clock mechanics temporarily disconnected Big Ben and the quarter bells from the clock mechanism and lowered the weights to the base of the tower in order to provide a safe environment for the people working in the Elizabeth Tower.
The history of Big Ben – the incredibly accurate clock which regulates its timekeeping using a stack of coins
After the Palace of Westminster was destroyed by a fire in 1834 those in charge of planning the new building decided to create a tower and clock.
The bell necessary for the giant clock had to be large, and John Warner and Sons at Stockton-on-Tees’ first attempt cracked irreparably.
in 1858 the metal was melted down and the bell recast in Whitechapel.
It first rang across Westminster on May 31, 1859 but just months later cracked again.
A lighter hammer had to be fitted and the bell was turned around so an undamaged section could be rung.
The origin of the name Big Ben is not known, although two different theories exist.
The first is that is was named after Sir Benjamin Hall, the first commissioner of works, a large man who was known affectionately in the house as ‘Big Ben’.
The second theory is that it was named after a heavyweight boxing champion at that time, Benjamin Caunt.
Also known as ‘Big Ben’, this nickname was commonly bestowed in society to anything that was the heaviest in its class.
Big Ben’s timekeeping is strictly regulated by a stack of coins placed on the huge pendulum.
Before 2009, timekeepers kept 10 old pennies beside the mechanism, using the coins to keep the clock accurate. It now also used special £5 coins created especially for the 2012 Olympics.
Adding or taking away coins affects the pendulum’s centre of mass and the rate at which it swings, Mike McCann, the clock’s keeper told Reuters news service at the time.
The clock has rarely stopped – even after a bomb destroyed the Commons chamber during the Second World War, the clock tower survived and Big Ben continued to strike the hours.
The chimes of Big Ben were first broadcast by the BBC on December 31 1923, a tradition that continues to this day.
The latin words under the clock face read Domine Salvam Fac Reginam Nostram Victoriam Primam, which means ‘O Lord, keep safe our Queen Victoria the First’.
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