Standing through the reigns of six British monarchs, the tenures of 30 different prime ministers and some of the greatest and darkest moments of its country’s history, Big Ben has witnessed the birth of modern Britain.
And now, hidden by scaffolding that has enveloped them since 2017, the Elizabeth Tower and Big Ben, the tower’s Great Bell, are undergoing the painstaking process of renovation. It’s the first complete restoration since the bell first rang in 1859, and the improvements are impressive. Not only will weathering, pollution, and wartime bomb damage be corrected, but energy-efficient lighting, an elevator, and detailed digital documentation will modernize the structure for future generations.
The most impressive part of these works is undoubtedly the restoration of the clock faces themselves – and getting up close and actually touching the external face of Big Ben was a once in a lifetime experience.
Each of the 324 pieces of hand-cut glass on each face is being replaced, while the colouring of the hands, numerals and surrounding decoration is being restored to the striking blue, green and gold shown in the tower’s original design…
As this teamwork to restore Big Ben for our generation, they have discovered notes and messages tucked into crevasses and openings in the stonework, left behind from previous workers wishing them well.
The restoration of Big Ben taking place alongside a much larger and highly complex refurbishment across the Palace of Westminster.
Read more about the Great Bell Big Ben at parliament.uk.
Find more construction videos from The B1M YouTube channel. And watch these videos out of London on TKSST:
• The Archaeology of Crossrail and the history of London
• London’s historic Mail Rail ride
• Ralliers: Table tennis in London’s public spaces
• 40,000 years of London history created with papercraft
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