UPDATED 29 SEPTEMBER 2017
A programme of essential works to conserve the Elizabeth Tower, the Great Clock and the Great Bell, also known as Big Ben began in early 2017.
The total overall cost of the project, including VAT, Risk and Optimism Bias and transferred fire safety work costs, is now estimated at £61m as opposed to £29m as estimated in spring 2016.
To ensure that the UK’s most famous clock continues to keep time, our experts closely monitor the mechanism and carry out adjustments on a daily basis. The Elizabeth Tower, which is visited by around 12,000 people each year, is carefully conserved by Parliament’s heritage team. However, as extensive conservation works were last carried out more than 30 years ago (1983-1985), significant work and an investment of £61m is now required to ensure it remains in good condition and is safeguarded for future generations.
As the Tower is 96 metres tall, scaffolding is needed to enable workers to reach high levels safely. Scaffolding will be dismantled as the work is completed from the top, and at least one clock face will be on show at all times. As a Grade I listed building within a UNESCO World Heritage site, the 160-year-old Tower is subject to listed building consent. This programme of works has been carefully planned in consultation with Historic England.
These works will:
- Repair problems identified with the Elizabeth Tower and the Great Clock, which cannot be rectified whilst the clock is in action
- Conserve significant elements of the Tower, as designed by architects Charles Barry and Augustus Wellby Pugin
- Repair and redecorate the interior, renew the building services and carry out work to improve health and safety and fire prevention
- Increase energy efficiency to reduce the Tower’s environmental impact
Rt Hon Tom Brake MP, Spokesperson for the House of Commons Commission, said:
"The Elizabeth Tower is a symbol of the UK’s democratic heritage and forms part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We have a duty to ensure that it is safeguarded for future generations to appreciate, just as we owe it to our predecessors to restore their masterpiece to its former glory. While these works are much needed in the short-term, they will also ensure the long-term future and sustainability of Big Ben."
Steve Jaggs, Keeper of the Clock, said:
"This historic clock is loved by so many people. It is both an honour and a great responsibility to keep it in good working order for public enjoyment. Every day our team of highly skilled clock mechanics cares for this Victorian masterpiece but, in order to keep the Clock ticking, we must now take the time to thoroughly inspect and restore it. These essential works balance value for money with Parliament’s custodial responsibility to the building as well as to those visiting and working in the Elizabeth Tower. This project will enable us to give one of Britain's most famous landmarks the TLC it so desperately needs and deserves."
Image: Parliamentary Copyright