Big Ben to fall silent for four years of repairs
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.