The chimes of Big Ben were silenced at 8.00am this morning in preparation for 6 weeks of essential maintenance work. Westminster’s famous landmark clock will remain silenced for the first time in 51 years, whilst the final phase of work to clean the four clock faces and replace parts takes place in preparation for the clock’s 150th anniversary celebration in 2009.
London tourists and spectators were surprised to see engineers and workers abseiling down the south clock face to repair and clean it. An electrical system will ensure the clock continues to work and show the time whilst work is done on the mechanism, even though the chimes have been silenced. Big Ben is one of London’s most famous landmarks. However the name, “Big Ben” actually refers to the 13.5 tonne bell inside rather than the clock itself.