What Time Is It? Or, What's Going On With Big Ben?
One of my favorite London icons is the Clock Tower of London. And, just like the rest of the world, I miss its face. The last two times I went to London, I saw its little body through jail bars and I really wanted to know when my clock is getting out of jail!
Elizabeth Tower, affectionately known as Big Ben, is undergoing a bit of a facelift. It was originally completed in 1859 and as any 160 year old lady will tell you, a nip and tuck here and there won’t hurt anything.
When built is was the largest and most accurate clock for the time. The tower itself stands 315 feet tall and the Big Ben (the largest of the Elizabeth Tower’s 5 bells) weighs 13.5 tons. It still uses its original mechanism but does have an electric motor backup.
Renovation work began on this historic monument in 2017 and should be completed by 2021. All tours have stopped while work is being done as well as the big bell has mostly gone silent. As you can imagine, workers wouldn’t be able to do their job effectively with all that bonging and bell movement going on. Now, don’t be alarmed. For important events (New Years, Remembrance day, etc.) the bell will be rung.
I’ve listed the work that the Great Clock is undergoing. According to the official Parliament UK website …
As part of this intricate series of works, the Great Clock itself will be dismantled piece by piece with each cog examined and restored. This work on the Great Clock is expected to take around 2 years. As it is the clock mechanism which drive the bells, Big Ben’s bongs would be silenced during this time anyway. However, to ensure that the public are still able to set their watches by this most important of time pieces, one working clock face will remain visible at all times throughout the works. As the clock mechanism itself will be temporarily out of action, a modern electric motor will drive the clock hands until the Great Clock is reinstated.
I’ve seen people posting their older pictures of Big Ben on Instagram (probably reminiscing over the good times). Instead, I wanted to post her as she is now. I miss her normal face but I understand that she has to have the work done so that everyone can keep enjoying her for another 200 plus years. And actually, she is still very pretty. I am still in awe every time I see her and can’t wait until 2021 when she is opened again. You know that I’ll be lining up to take another look.
Have you ever visited the Clock Tower of London? How long ago was it and did you travel through her or just stand and admire her? And, are you like me and have plans to see her new and improved facade when it’s ready?
If so, then I’ll see you in front of the Great Bell.