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East Dial revealed as installation of original clock hands continues

16 August 2021

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Teams on the Elizabeth Tower restoration project have been spending the summer recess working hard on the installation of Big Ben’s original clock hands. Now, the East Dial – overlooking the River Thames – has been completed, with the original hands installed and scaffolding removed from the clock face.

Following restoration off-site, the original hands have been painted to match the original Prussian Blue colour scheme on the clock dials, first revealed in 2019, and are being gradually brought up to the top of the Tower and slotted into position on the dials. The hands will continue to be driven by a temporary mechanism until the original clock mechanism has completed its own detailed restoration programme.  

Detail of original clock hands    

© UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

This is complex and intricate engineering. Each dial needs to be covered whilst its respective hands are being installed, so that lifting points can be provided. Safety is the team’s primary consideration - the hour hands are made of gun metal and weigh 300kg, more than three times heavier than the minute hands - so careful handling is required.  

Installation of original clock hands

© UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

The work is expected to complete in September, after which there will be several weeks of testing. Visitors to Westminster will see more scaffolding removed from around the clockfaces later this year, as the restoration project approaches its final chapter.  

Big Ben is coming back. For the latest updates, visit the website or subscribe to the Elizabeth Tower newsletter.  


Lead image © Simon Camper | Lumen Photography

Watch the scaffolding come down around the East Dial of the Elizabeth Tower

Scaffolding removed from Big Ben

Watch the scaffolding come down around the East Dial of the Elizabeth Tower. Copyright: Lumen Photography

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