LONDON (PNA/Xinhua) – The doors to Britain’s most famous clock tower, London’s Big Ben, were closed to the public Saturday in preparation for a facelift costing more than $40 million.
The close of the 157-year-old Elizabeth Tower which houses the clock and Westminster chiming bells, will means the iconic hourly gong of the bells falling silent for the first time since 2007.
The project will see major work on the clock mechanism, including repairs to the clock’s hands, mechanism and its pendulum. The hour hand is 2.7 meters long and the minute hand is 4.3 meters long. The whole restoration project will take three years to complete.
As part of restoration work, the famous bells will stay silent for a number of months, but no date for this part of the project has yet been announced.
Officials at the Palace of Westminster, home to the British parliament, have described the condition of the clock mechanism as being in a “chronic state”. Concerns have also been expressed about the fabric of the tower which is close to reaching an “acute” condition.
When the work on the tower is finished, it will be easier for disabled people, thanks to a new elevator being installed as an alternative to using the 334 steps to ascend to the top.
While work is carried out on the clock faces they will be covered with sheeting, though at least one will remain visible at any time.
Although the Big Ben clock is one of the most photographed in the world, it is not the biggest. By about a meter’s difference in diameter, the clock faces on the Royal Liver Building in Liverpool is the country’s largest clock face.