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Conservation of Elizabeth Tower and Big Ben

On the following pages you can read the remarkable story of how people from across the nation came together to save one of the best loved buildings in the world.

Scaffolding and building works on Elizabeth

Big Ben undergoes the biggest conservation in its history 

Affectionately known around the world as Big Ben and shrouded in scaffolding from 2017-2022, the Elizabeth Tower was repaired from the gilt cross and orb at its tip, to the bottom of its 334-step staircase.  

It was the largest and most complex conservation project in the Tower’s history.

Parliament has restored the clock tower to its former glory, as well as modernising and upgrading facilities to make it fit for the 21st century. This is vital to ensure that this iconic building, situated on a UNESCO World Heritage site, is safeguarded for future generations to visit and enjoy. 

A powerful symbol of democracy 

The Elizabeth Tower stands as a symbol of not only the United Kingdom but of democracy. 

The bells of Big Ben have been ringing for over 160 yearsdespite the effects on the building of bombing during the Second World War, as well as weather and pollution 

The clock tower was built by the Victorians to the highest possible standards, using the best craftspeople and the finest materials. But like other buildings of a similar age, the Elizabeth Tower suffered from problems that needed to be overcome. Now that the restoration is complete, the clock tower can continue to tell time for centuries to come. 

Investing in precious skills 

Many hundreds of specialist craftspeople from across the UK contributed to the conservation project. They used traditional trades which reflect our proud architectural heritage, including stone masonry, gilding, glass cutting and horology.  

The investment was vital to secure Elizabeth Tower for the next 160 years. It is also an investment in our traditional trades.

The clock tower will soon reopen to visitors. Read on to see what’s been happening and what visitors can expect to see.