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Big Ben's spire revealed as first pieces of scaffolding removed

19 October 2019 (updated on 30 March 2021)

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On Monday 7 October 2019, part of the iconic Elizabeth Tower will again be visible after two years behind scaffolding.

Over the course of the next five weeks, the newly restored rooftop and spire will be slowly revealed. Extensive work has restored both the inside and the outside of the Elizabeth Tower, including the 3,433 roof tiles and the spire with its intricate flowers, cross and orb.

A landmark in the project

“The first section of scaffolding coming down is a key moment in the project” said Adam Watrobski, Principal Architect. “It means that we are getting nearer the end and that people can again enjoy this symbol of our nation and of democracy.”

Each of the 3,433 cast iron roof tiles was removed and taken to a specialist workshop in the North of England, for repair. The Tower's signature metal cross and orb have also been repaired, and a team of gilders have spent weeks gilding the ornate details to match the original design from 1859.

An expert team of scaffolders will work to take down the free-standing scaffolding in the restricted space around the Tower. The scaffolding will only be removed around the very top at this stage as the conservation work continues.

Charlotte Claughton, Senior Project Leader, said: “Removing the scaffolding in stages is part of our commitment to make sure as much as possible of this iconic landmark is visible to the public. The whole team feel so privileged to be part of this project and now we get to show everyone a bit more of what we have been working on.”

Essential conservation work continues

To ensure that the UK's most famous clock continues to keep time, specialist teams carry out regular maintenance and adjustments to the Great Clock. However, it has been over 32 years since the last extensive works were carried out to maintain the clock and Elizabeth Tower.

Specialist teams continue to work on repairs to cracks in masonry, leaks and erosion, as well as severe rusting of the metalwork. Conservation teams continue to work on significant elements of the Tower, bringing the colour scheme back to the original design as designed by architects Charles Barry and Augustus Welby Pugin.

Teams are also repairing and redecorating the interior, as well as making improvements to health and safety and fire protection systems.

Further information

Living Heritage: Big Ben
Conservation works FAQ 


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