No More Bongs! Big Ben to Fall Silent for 4 years of Repairs

LONDON (AP) — The bongs will soon be gone.
Big Ben — the huge clock bell of Britain’s Parliament — will fall silent next week as a four-year restoration project gets underway.
The bongs of the iconic bell will be stopped after chiming noon on Aug. 21 to protect workers during a 29-million-pound ($38 million) repair project on the Queen Elizabeth Tower, which houses Big Ben and its clock. It isn’t due to resume regular service until 2021.
Steve Jaggs, keeper of the Great Clock, said Monday that the clock mechanism will be dismantled piece by piece and its four dials will be cleaned and repaired. The 13.5 British ton (15.1 U.S. ton, 13.7 metric tons) bell will be cleaned and checked for cracks.

Big Ben has been stopped several times since it first sounded in 1859, but the current restoration project will mark its longest period of silence.

Parliamentary officials say they will ensure that the bell still sounds on major occasions, such as New Year’s Eve and Remembrance Sunday.
The silence presents a problem for the BBC, which broadcasts the bongs every evening before the radio news through a microphone in the belfry.

After testing out the sound of substitute bells, the broadcaster said it will use a recording.

British athlete Mo Farah stands atop of a pod on the London Eye, with Big Ben’s clock tower in background, as he bids a final farewell to British track competitive athletics after winning gold in the 10,000m and silver in the 5,000m at the IAAF World Championships in London, Sunday Aug. 13, 2017. Farah is due to retire from the track at the end of the month, after the Diamond League in Zurich, and hopes to focus on the marathon distance. (Jonathan Brady/PA via AP)

A general view of Palace of Westminster and the Queen Elizabeth Tower which contains the bell known as ‘Big Ben’ in London, Monday, Aug. 14, 2017. Big Ben will fall silent next week in London as a major restoration project gets underway. The bongs of the iconic bell will be stopped on Aug. 21 to protect workers during a four-year, 29-million-pound ($38 million) conservation project that includes repair of the Queen Elizabeth Tower, which houses Big Ben and its clock.(AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

A general view of the Queen Elizabeth Tower, which hold the bell known as ‘Big Ben” in London, Monday, Aug. 14, 2017. Big Ben will fall silent next week in London as a major restoration project gets underway. The bongs of the iconic bell will be stopped on Aug. 21 to protect workers during a four-year, 29-million-pound ($38 million) conservation project that includes repair of the Queen Elizabeth Tower, which houses Big Ben and its clock. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

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