wnol.info September 21 2017


Brexit-backing MPs chime in on Big Ben's bong

September 21 2017, 09:21 | Irvin Gilbert

The Big Ben bell within the Elizabeth Tower ahead of the bell ceasing to chime on Monday at the Palace of Westminster London

The Big Ben bell

The giant bell atop Parliament's clock tower rang out at noon, as it has nearly every hour since 1859, becoming an iconic sound of London.

"Of course we want to ensure people's safety at work but it can't be right for Big Ben to be silent for four years", Prime Minister Theresa May said last week.

The giant bell atop Parliament's clock tower sent a dozen deep bongs into a gray sky at noon, marking the hour as it has done nearly continuously since 1859.

House of Commons authorities said workers would not be able to operate safely next to the ringing of the 13-tonne bell.

Big Ben, which chimes at 118 decibels, is being silenced to protect the hearing of fix workers.

The clock tower - also commonly called Big Ben, but formally named the Elizabeth Tower after Queen Elizabeth II - is one of London's most-photographed buildings.

The House of Commons Commission - which is made up of MPs, officials, lay members, and chaired by Speaker John Bercow - will review the timescale for repairs when Parliament returns after the summer break. The original mechanical clock mechanism is to be completely dismantled, refurbished and put back together in a separate operation taking around two years.

Cleaners on the face of the great clock
A specialist technical abseil team cleaning and inspect one of the four faces of the Great Clock

Ealing North MP Stephen Pound, a critic of the plan, has said there will be a small group of MPs "standing there with bowed heads in the courtyard" as Big Ben chimes at midday on 21 August. It was damaged, but the clock kept on ticking, and the bell continued chiming.

A brick enclosure in the tower will be replaced with glass to allow Big Ben to be viewed by people walking up the staircase.

He said: 'Why shouldn't there be a round the clock effort to get it done?

So unless there is a change of plan, the live reassuring chimes of Big Ben will be denied to London residents and to the tourists who flock to Westminster.

But politicians have claimed that when they agreed to the work, they did not know the chimes would be silenced for four years.

The maintenance work will include repairs to the clock's faces and hands, the installation of an emergency lift and renovation works on the building itself. But for the most part it has operated nearly continuously for its 157-year history, including during World War II.

"In light of concerns expressed by a number of deputies, the committee of the House of Commons will re-evaluate the length of time for which the bells remain silent" to the resumption of parliament in September, according to the Parliament.



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