United Kingdom parliament's 'Big Ben' bell to fall silent for four years

Big Ben 'could not be silenced by the Blitz but can be by health and safety'

However the bongs will still sound for important events, such as New Year's Eve celebrations.

'Members of the public are welcome to mark this important moment by gathering in Parliament Square to hear Big Ben's final bongs until they return in 2021'.

"Whilst hearing protection provides a suitable short term solution to the 118 decibel chiming and striking of the bells, it is not acceptable for those working for long periods in the vicinity of Big Ben".

It will be the longest period Big Ben has been silenced in its 157-year history and will begin after noon on Monday August 21.

Big Ben's famous bongs will be silenced for four years next week as major conservation work is carried out.

The last regular "bongs" until 2021 will sound next Monday. There's hardly a health and safety argument in replacing a bell.

'It does rather beg the question why it's going to take four years to do this, ' Mr Gardiner said.

The Elizabeth Tower, home to the Great Clock and Big Ben, is undergoing a complex programme of renovation aimed at preserving the landmark for future generations.

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'Big Ben has resonance and importance for the tourist industry.

A parliamentary spokesperson said the move was necessary to protect building workers' health: "Constant proximity to the chimes would pose a serious risk to their hearing and prevent efficient working".

The Great Clock has a Victorian-era clockwork mechanism that triggers the bell and chimes. It would also be unacceptable for them to be asked to wear ear defenders for that length of time.' Asked why the work would take four years, Mr Jaggs said: 'You have to get everything right. Workers on the scaffolding could also be startled by the loud sudden noise, with consequences for their own safety and those of other people in and around the tower.

The Great Clock will be dismantled piece by piece with each cog examined and restored.

Parliament's team of clock makers have a well-practiced method of stopping the bells.

During the fix work, an electric motor will drive the clock hands until the main mechanism has been restored, so it will continue to tell the time. The whole process is expected to take approximately half a day to complete.

The massive bell will mark the hour for the last time at noon on August 21 and then pause for four years while the Elizabeth Tower, which houses the Great Clock and the Great Bell, aka Big Ben, is restored.

After testing out the sound of substitute bells, the broadcaster said it will use a recording.

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