Big Ben's Bongs Fall Silent

Big Ben in London

Big Ben in London was shut down on Monday soon after it rang 12 times at noon

Richard Thomas, a professional clock maker living in London, came here specifically to hear Big Ben strike noon for the last time possibly for several years.

LONDON landmark Big Ben fell silent for four years starting yesterday, as a political outcry mounted over renovations that will rob Britain of a cherished symbol at a time of national uncertainty.

If it is silenced for four years, it will be the longest period Big Ben has remained quiet after 157 years of nearly unbroken service.

Mr Pound had hoped to have been joined by at least 20 "like-minded traditionalists" to witness the halting of the bongs but just a few watched from the grounds.

"This essential programme of works will safeguard the clock on a long-term basis, as well as protecting and preserving its home - the Elizabeth Tower", said Keeper of the Great Clock Steve Jaggs of the renovation. While this vital work takes place, the Great Bell's world famous striking will be paused until 2021 to ensure the safety of those working in the Tower.

Hundreds of parliamentary staff, journalists and lawmakers gathered in a courtyard under the Victorian clock tower, while hundreds more tourists and passersby lined sidewalks and filled nearby Parliament Square.

The Elizabeth Tower, which houses the Great Clock and the "Big Ben" bell, is seen above the Houses of Parliament.

Big Ben in London
Big Ben's Bongs Fall Silent

The roof of the tower will also be stripped off and restored, the bell frame repaired, leaks into the clock room stemmed and a lift installed. Its bongs will still sound for important events such as New Year's Eve celebrations.

"You don't know what you've got till it's gone", he said.

Big Ben will fall silent on Monday for renovations following a backlash from Theresa May and MPs over the proposed four-year timetable for the work.

However, Burns told BBC Radio 4's Westminster Hour: "Colleagues saying the House of Commons commission is achieving something that even the Luftwaffe couldn't achieve, stopping Big Ben".

During the fix work, scaffolding will obscure parts of the tower, and the clock faces will be covered at times - though at least one face will always be visible.

However, the decision to halt the bongs of Big Ben has faced some opposition. It was damaged, but the clock kept on ticking, and the bell continued chiming.

"In light of concerns expressed by a number of deputies, the committee of the House of Commons will re-evaluate the length of time for which the bells remain silent" to the resumption of parliament in September, according to the Parliament.

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