Ayrton Light

Ayrton Light at the top of the Elizabeth Tower

With the top of the Elizabeth Tower now visible, work has begun on the re-installation of the famous Ayrton Light, which sits directly under the newly revealed spire.

It was named after Acton Smee Ayrton, a Liberal politician who was First Commissioner of Works between 1869 and 1873.

The light was installed for the twin purpose of testing an electric light to illuminate the streets below and to alert MPs to the fact that the House of Commons was sitting after dark. In recent years it has been changed to indicate the occasions when either House is sitting.

The lantern-like structure sits at a height of 76m, shining whenever either House of Parliament sits after dark. The repair works to the Ayrton Light have included removing the lantern from the tower, fully dismantling it and restoring each piece.

The electricity supply to the Ayrton Light is currently switched off, with four temporary, substitute lights mounted on the scaffolding on each side of the Tower. These substitute lights are shining whilst Parliament is sitting until the original Ayrton Light is reinstated to its former glory.

The Ayrton Light will be visible and functioning again once the essential conservation works are complete and will be revealed once the scaffolding is dismantled over the coming two years.