If you’re travelling in London this week, make sure to keep your ears open for the chimes of London’s iconic Big Ben, as the famous bell will fall silent next week and stay that way until 2021.
Big Ben has been steadily ringing for more than 150 years, with only a few minor breaks for maintenance and special occasions. But, with all the time that has passed since the tower was completed in 1858, there’s now some necessary maintenance that will take about four years to complete.
While often used as a colloquial name for the Elizabeth Tower at the country’s Palace of Westminster, or Parliament, the term Big Ben is actually the nickname for the 13.7-ton bell. Usually it chimes every 15 minutes, but in order to protect the staff working on the restoration, who will be up on scaffolding throughout the process, the bell will have to be silent, reports Bloomberg.
The last chime from Big Ben will happen at noon on Monday, 21 August – and after that any visitors to London will have to be content with just looking at the iconic building. Luckily, the process will just include disconnecting the bell, and the clock faces will still tell time, according to the Evening Standard. The famous chimes can still be trotted out for holidays like New Year’s Eve, so there will be chances to hear it over the next few years.
While the silence may come as a disappointment to some visitors, the restoration works are needed to preserve the tower, and even the clock even being dismantled, cleaned and restored. And if you want to hear the final ring, Bloomberg reports that the “Keeper of the Great Clock” Steve Jaggs has encouraged people to gather near the clock tower on the 21st to hear the final chimes.