The 13-ton bell will still sound for special occasions such as New Year’s Eve, but parliamentary officials say the bonging must be muted while the repair work is being carried out. The 96-meters-tall Tower is now partially covered in scaffolding. At the appointed hour, Monday, hundreds gathered in Parliament Square to hear the final ringing of the regular bongs, many with smartphones to record them. It was an emotional moment. Applause rippled through the crowd once the last bong had faded away.
Big Ben in London
The four-year length of the outage has caused consternation among British politicians. When the announcement was made, last week, even the British Prime Minister was surprised. “It can’t be right,” she said and even urged a review of the decision. Parliamentary authorities insist that the silence is necessary to protect the hearing of workers carrying out the renovations of the Elizabeth Tower and the Great Clock. Big Ben has a very long and interesting history. It has operated almost continuously for 157 years, including during World War II. “It’s important, it’s part of our history,” many people in London say. This is one of the most iconic images in the world.