Nearly every hour for the better part of the last 157 years, Big Ben’s bongs could be heard around London. But after one last ring at noon local time next Monday, the bell will fall silent for the next four years as the Victorian-era timepiece undergoes much-needed repairs.
The Keeper of the Clock explained that the clock needs to be “dismantled piece by piece with each cog examined and restored” to assess an issue with the clock that rings the bell.
There are those who aren’t down with the plan. The Telegraph reported on a “backlash” from other MPs and columnist Frances Wilson wrote: “Silencing Big Ben is like stopping the heartbeat of our democracy.” An article in the Daily Mail said, “Not even Nazi bombs could silence the famous symbol of Britishness”.
The complete renovation is projected to cost $40 million. The tower will be encased in scaffolding during construction, but one of the four clock faces will remain uncovered, a small consolation to Londoners unhappy about saying goodbye for now to the clock’s hourly bongs.