It's Been 160 Years Since Big Ben's First Bong, and the Tower Is Marking the Occasion by Staying Quiet

By Shabana Arif on at

Big Ben is missing a landmark birthday by having a quiet one this year, despite turning 160 years old.

The clock tower has been on the subdued side since 2017, when the renovations were announced and will be keeping it zipped until 2021.

That hasn't stopped it ringing on special occasions, with a couple of forlorn test bongs ringing out last year in preparation for Remembrance Sunday and New Year's Eve. Taco Bell even went so far as to feign its ringing as part of some weird publicity stunt for its new London restaurant.

Sadly, the 160th anniversary of Big Ben's first chime today doesn't count as a special occasion, which is a sad state of affairs if you care about that sort of thing. Construction of the tower was finished in 1859, with the clock starting up on May 31. The first ever bong followed on July 11.

The Elizabeth Tower has been ensconced in scaffolding for some time now, although a SnapChat filter briefly removed it for a time to let tourists take their London selfies.

The scaffolding has been embraced as a feature of the landmark, appearing on Google Maps, and is even on HP sauce bottle labels across the country.