London – London’s famous Big Ben (clock) is to be given a 43-million-U.S.-dollar facelift, the British Parliament has announced.
Parliament spokesman said the three-year programme of work would begin in early 2017.
It means the clock would be switched off and the bell silenced for some time while the work lasts.
In spite of attention from specialist clock makers on a daily basis, it was estimated that if problems were not addressed soon, there was a high risk that the clock would fail.
The project represented the biggest programme of works in the history of the tower.
The last major overhaul of the clock took place over 30 years ago.
Significant elements of the tower would be restored to their original design and LED lighting would be installed to increase energy efficiency to reduce the tower’s environmental impact.
“While the tower itself is structurally sound and does not require works to improve its stability, other works are now a matter of urgency.
“Cracks have developed in the masonry, the cast iron work on the roof and belfry is corroding, and leaks have caused damage internally.
“There is evidence of serious condensation, leading to problems with damp, cracked plaster work, and rust.
“Corrosion to the bell frame has caused one of the feet supporting the quarter bells and Big Ben to split.’’
Steve Jaggs, Keeper of the clock, said: “in order to keep the clock ticking, we must now take the time to thoroughly inspect and restore it’’. (Xinhua/NAN)