London's Big Ben needs £40m makeover to keep it ticking!

One of London’s most instantly recognisable tourist attractions – Big Ben – is in danger of being silenced unless £40 million of public money is found to repair it.

Big Ben is in urgent need of repair but it could take up to £40 million to do the job properly

Big Ben is in urgent need of repair but it could take up to £40 million to do the job properly Image by Lee Dyer / CC BY 2.0

The great clock of parliament is in such a poor state that there are fears it will seize up unless it is done as a matter of urgency.

Big Ben - the clock on the Houses of Parliament - whose famous bongs could be silenced for three months if repair work goes ahead

Big Ben - the clock on the Houses of Parliament - whose famous bongs could be silenced for three months if repair work goes ahead Image by Steve Parsons/PA Wire

The Daily Express has highlighted a report from the House of Commons finance committee which makes a case for a £30m rescue plan but stresses that it could rise by another £10m unless the work is done right away.

If the green light is given to carry out the repair work, it will mean the iconic sound of the clock striking the hour will be quietened for 15 weeks - the longest ever time it has stayed silent in its 156-year history. The main problems are located behind the hands where bearings and the pendulum are said to be in an acute state, meaning the clock could stop at any time. There is also the problem of metal erosion, numerous cracks and several structural defects in its Elizabeth Tower.

The report warns that in the event of failure to function, Big Ben would take a long time to repair as the work would require scaffolding around it. The full refurbishment would require each of the four faces to be covered as the work progressed.

This latest cost comes hot on the heels of the taxpayer paying up to £7 billion to restore the crumbling Palace of Westminster.

Related content