Refurbished Big Ben unveiled after five-year renovation
What is most likely the world’s most famous clocktower is now visible after five years hidden behind scaffolding during a renovation, and it’s an amazing sight.
Renovations on the tower started five years ago, when it was announced it would be undergoing a £79.7 million reconstruction. The reconstruction included taking apart more than 1000 pieces of the clock face and removing them via a lift shaft in order to clean and repair them; that includes wheels, pinions, bell-hammers and bearings of the clock face.
In addition, the clock hands have been restored to their original blue after having previously been painted black to try and mask the dirt from pollution. Most noticeably, the exterior has been repainted a bright and glistening gold, and the overall effect is outstanding.
Maybe it’s been worth the wait? pic.twitter.com/a1EpBcuMcb
— David Belle (@davidbelle_) January 11, 2022
The Cumbria Clock Company has overseen the refurbishment, working tirelessly in their workshop to clean and repair all of the necessary components. This renovation was the first time the clock mechanism had been removed from its home in the Elizabeth Tower (the structure’s actual name, ‘Big Ben’ is just the bell inside).
Cumbria Clock Company director and co-founder Keith Scobie-Youngs wrote on the Parliament website, “It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to work on the best-known clock in the world. We transplanted the heart of the UK up to Cumbria. We were able to assemble the time side, the heartbeat, and put that on test in our workshop, so for two years, we had that heartbeat ticking away in our test room, which was incredibly satisfying.
“It became part of the family and its departure has been like a child leaving home. The beauty of a clock like this is that you as a clockmaker become part of its history and want to leave it in a better place than you found it, so the next clockmaker can appreciate it. We were privileged to become part of the story of Big Ben; everyone at the company feels that attachment to the story.”
Work on the tower is not yet finished, however, and is expected to wrap up by British summer, a year later than planned, during the pandemic. While the tower was undergoing its renovation, Ben’s famous bongs only rang out on a select few special occasions, such as New Years and Armistice Day.
Image: Rasid Necati Aslim/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images