Big Ben's Getting Blue Hands

By Holly Brockwell on at

Big ol' Ben is currently silent for three years' worth of repairs, and while that's going on, researchers have been busily trying to figure out what the original colour scheme was.

As we reported back at the beginning of the works, the clock face has only been black and gold since the '80s, and now it turns out the original hand colour was in fact blue.

Scientists from Lincoln Uni have analysed over 100 samples of the paint on the clock face, and established that the hands and numerals were a lovely shade of Prussian blue until the '30s. According to the Evening Standard, pollution and weathering turned them black, and they've been painted black ever since.

The clock tower (officially named the Elizabeth Tower, fact fans) is currently covered in scaffolding, although you can remove it with a Snapchat filter if you're that person.

Restoration is planned to go on until 2021 (that's the year 2021, not 8.21 this evening), and is currently estimated to cost about £61m. Knowing British organisation, that means we'll likely have the clock back around 2050 at a cost of £90 bajillion.

The Great Bell (as it's technically known) has been mostly silent since the works started in 2017, but occasional bongs have been heard for testing and special events. Big Ben's bongs will be back for New Year's Eve, after Rochdale Town Hall stepped in to do the Christmas ones. They won't be the proper bongs, though: an electric motor will power the big-ass hammer to hit the bell, rather than the traditional mechanism.

Do you think Big Ben will look better or worse with blue hands? Should we just buy it some extra-large gloves for the winter? Let us know in the comments.

Main image: Phil Dolby via Flickr CC, terrible MS Paint job by Gizmodo UK