Big Ben to fall si­lent for four years of re­pairs

The Commercial Appeal - - Front Page -

USA TO­DAY LON­DON The iconic bell Big Ben sounded the hour for the last time Mon­day be­fore it went si­lent for nearly four years of re­pair work.

Af­ter 12 deep bongs at noon (7 a.m. ET), the bell be­gan its long­est pe­riod of si­lence since it first rang out in 1859 from its fa­mous perch over the Bri­tish Par­lia­ment.

A $38 mil­lion ren­o­va­tion will last un­til 2021, though the bell will be heard on spe­cial oc­ca­sions such as New Year’s Eve.

Big Ben is the nick­name for the Great Bell of the clock in the El­iz­a­beth Tower of the Palace of West­min­ster in Lon­don. It is one of Lon­don’s best­known sounds and is pop­u­lar with vis­i­tors.

Law­mak­ers, tourists and passers-by as­sem­bled Mon­day in Par­lia­ment Square to hear the bell’s fi­nal chimes be­fore the con­ser­va­tion work starts.

The de­ci­sion to si­lence Big Ben is not with­out con­tro­versy. Some mem­bers of Par­lia­ment — in­clud­ing Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May, who said “it can­not be right” for the bell not to chime for four years — ob­ject to the cost and time of the ren­o­va­tions. A par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee will re­view the re­pair plan.

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