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Watch the work under the scaffolding from the gilding process to stonework, and the skills of glassmakers

The people conserving Big Ben

People from across the UK have come together to save one of the best loved buildings in the world.

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Craftspeople from across the UK are using traditional skills such as gilding, stone masonry, glass cutting, and horology to conserve Parliament’s clock tower.  

These crafts are similar to the methods used by the Victorians when Elizabeth Tower was originally built in the 1850s.

Each skill takes a lifetime to perfect, each task with a hammer and chisel takes long hours to perform. Alongside traditional craftspeople, our team of engineers uses cutting-edge technology.

A once in a lifetime job

The ingenuity of the solutions they produce together is part of what makes this conservation project so special.  

Everyone working on the project, from young apprentices to the masters at their craft, feel a huge responsibility to do this properly. It is truly a once in a lifetime job.   

Here are a few of the people working to conserve Big Ben for the future. 

Charlotte Claughton, Senior Project Leader, Houses of Parliament 

Charlotte is Parliament’s leader of the conservation project and manages the project day-to-day.  

“I’m immensely proud of the entire team working together to conserve Big Ben. I see the enthusiasm in our apprentices when they get to grips with a new skill taught to them by a colleague who has been plying their trade for years. I’m pleased to see my own generation, taking up heritage skills and apply them with such expertise,” Charlotte said. 

Adam Watrobski, Principal Architect and Head of Architecture and Heritage, Houses of Parliament  

As Principal Architect for Parliament, Adam is responsible for the entire Parliamentary Estate. On the Elizabeth Tower project, he ensures that the work is in keeping with the building’s architectural heritage and of the utmost standard.  

“On a complex project like this, our priority is, and will always be, to ensure that the fabric of this remarkable building is cared for, conserved and protected for years to come,” Adam said.  

Ian Westworth, Clock Maker, Houses of Parliament 

For 16 years, Ian has been one of Parliament’s clock mechanics. Now he is part of the team painstakingly conserving the Great Clock. 

“This is the first time the Great Clock has been taken apart fully so we can assess and repair every wheel and pinion. Its a daunting task without plans for the mechanism, but its also an enormous privilege. Working on the best loved clock in the world requires not only skill but also a certain care and affection for the piece,” Ian said.

A peek behind the scenes

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A huge amount of work has been going on under the scaffolding to restore the Elizabeth Tower. Watch to learn more about the gilding process, the stonework, and the glassmaker's work. Gilding: all photos ©UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor. Stonemasonry: all photos ©UK Parliament/Mark Duffy. Glassmaker: all images © UK Parliament/Mark Duffy.