Elizabeth Tower updates

18 October 2017

It has always been the intention throughout the Elizabeth Tower conservation works for there to be one working clock face visible at all times and for Big Ben to ring out for important national events. Plans have now been confirmed for 2017.

Clock Faces

One working clock face will be visible at all times throughout the conservation work, the first one being the South clock face (facing the Victoria Tower). Scaffolding is currently being erected around the Elizabeth Tower and we expect it to reach belfry level by the end of October 2017. The remaining clock dials will be covered in order to carry out repair work and maintenance to the glass and metalwork, and in order to remove and service the hands.

Time Change Weekend (28 - 29 October)

Every year, the Palace of Westminster Clockmakers have the responsibility of changing the time on the Elizabeth Tower when British Summer Time (BST) finishes and Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) begins. In addition, there are 2,000 other clocks throughout the Palace of Westminster and the parliamentary buildings to adjust over time change weekend. The clocks will go back 1 hour at 2am on Sunday 29 October.

Reconnecting the bells for Remembrance Sunday weekend (11 - 12 November)

It has always been the intention throughout the Elizabeth Tower conservation works for Big Ben to ring out for important national events, and whenever we safely can without disruption to the refurbishment project. Big Ben and the quarter bells will be reconnected so that they can be rung on Armistice Day (11 November) and Remembrance Sunday (12 November).

Due to the period of inactivity since 21 August, Big Ben must be re-connected in advance in order to ensure that it will chime at exactly 11:00 on the Saturday and Sunday. Big Ben and the quarter bells will therefore be reconnected at 09:00 on Thursday 9 November and adjusted throughout the day to ensure the correct time (please note that there are likely to be slight inaccuracies at first). During this period, the conservation works will continue at the lower levels of the Elizabeth Tower, where the sound of the bells is at an acceptable volume for workers. The bells will be disconnected at 13:00 on Sunday 12 November, after the bells have rung the hour.

Reconnecting the bells for Christmas and New Year’s Eve (23 December – 1 January)

Conservation works to the Elizabeth Tower will temporarily cease from Saturday 23 December 2017 to New Year’s Day inclusive. This provides an opportunity for Big Ben and the quarter bells to chime during the Christmas holiday season, while there are no health and safety implications to people working inside the Tower.

The bells will be reconnected on Saturday 23 December at 09:00 and adjusted throughout the day to ensure the correct time (please note that there are likely to be slight inaccuracies at first). They will be disconnected at 13:00 on Monday 1 January 2018, after the bells have rung the hour.

The New Year’s Eve fireworks display will be set off from the London Eye, as has been done in previous years.

Further Information:

  • For media enquiries, pitches, images or interview requests, please contact the House of Commons Media Office on [email protected] / 0207 219 0969
  • The flood lights which illuminate the Elizabeth Tower, including the belfry (green lights) are due to be switched off shortly. This is in order to isolate power for the conservation works to continue.
  • Further details about Big Ben, including historical information and a Q&A about the conservation project is available at www.parliament.uk/BigBen

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