It's no secret that Parliament is in dire need of serious renovation, and it turns out that getting everything fixed is going to affect more than just the working location of a few out of touch MPs. It's been announced that Big Ben will be taking a four year rest, with the last bong taking place next Monday at noon.
Why you might ask? For health and safety reasons, that's why. Until the renovation of Elizabeth Tower is completed, the big bell will stopping bonging every hour in order to protect workers' hearing. A parliamentary spokesperson said:
"The chimes are being stopped to provide a safe environment for the people working on the scaffolding. Constant proximity to the chimes would pose a serious risk to their hearing, and would prevent efficient working.
People will be working on the scaffolding day-in day-out throughout the works, and, while protective headgear could be provided, it is not desirable for individuals working at height to have their hearing obscured as there is concern the ability to hear each other and any alarms could be affected."
The London Evening Standard points out that clock mechanics are issued ear defenders when working on the clock, but spend very little time in proximity to the bonging bell each week.
The iconic London bongs first began 157 years ago, though they haven't not been interrupted during that time. The bell had to be silenced in 2007 to carry out maintenance, as well as during previous renovations between 1983 and 1985.
The clock itself will continue to tell the time, so the bell will be disconnected from the clock systems with the hammers locked in place. The bell will, however, get the chance to bong away during important events such as the New Year and Remembrance Day. Other that that, however, the bongs will only properly return when works are completed in 2021.
Provided, of course, that the renovation works don't end up behind schedule. But come on, when has that ever happened? [London Evening Standard]