Big Ben’s return in earshot
18 July 2022
Parliament has provided an update on the Elizabeth Tower’s conservation project, setting out final works and testing required ahead of project completion.
The restoration of the Elizabeth Tower is now in its final stages and on track to complete in October, with the return of Big Ben’s ‘bongs’ also expected by then.
The works undertaken to the Great Clock’s mechanism and its components represent the most intensive conservation in its history. Earlier this year, works inside the Tower had been planned in a different sequence, which allowed us to forecast the permanent reconnection of the bells earlier than full project completion.
However, teams working on the Clock will now allow for a further period of testing on the quarter bells - providing teams with an opportunity to fine-tune this priceless example of Victorian engineering before all the bells are brought back into regular service.
Once tests of the quarter bells have been completed Parliament will be able to announce a specific date for when the bells will be heard permanently. Parliament’s overriding priority is the completion of the project to schedule, on time and to the highest quality. It remains on track to do so.
Earlier this year, the Great Clock’s Victorian mechanism was successfully re-installed and has been functioning correctly for several months. The final stage in the Great Clock’s restoration will be the return of Big Ben’s ‘bongs’ - ringing out across London accompanied by the Tower’s quarter bells, which chime the famous ‘Westminster Melody’.
Once testing has been completed on the Great Clock and the bells have been brought back into regular use, the conservation of the Elizabeth Tower will be complete. Over the Summer, power and data infrastructure will have been connected and fire safety systems installed - including the complex sprinkler system and fireproofing that will help safeguard this historic building.
Soon after, the lighting systems in the Tower will also be completed, with the clock dials’ new energy-efficient LED illumination in operation. The new lighting system behind the dials will have the ability to change colour when required.
Parliament will then resume ownership of the building and begin to prepare it for future use. The installation and testing of new exhibition spaces, workshops and tour routes is expected to be completed in the Winter. Parliament expects to welcome its first visitors back inside the Elizabeth Tower soon after, in Spring 2023. More information on the visitor offer will be provided in the coming months.
Big Ben is coming back. For the latest updates, visit the website or subscribe to the Elizabeth Tower newsletter.
Image: ©UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor