Elizabeth Tower conservation set to complete in 2022
26 April 2021 (updated on 26 April 2021)
The conservation of the Elizabeth Tower has moved another step closer to completion today, as further details about the progress of the works are unveiled after a year of unprecedented challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Elizabeth Tower conservation project is due to complete in the second quarter of 2022, and Parliament has revealed a number of important milestones that are expected on the project over the next twelve months. These include the removal of further scaffolding, the re-installation of the Great Clock and the return of Big Ben’s world-famous chimes.
In the Summer of 2021, the complex task of installing the restored clock mechanism will begin. Following years of painstaking conservation work, the clock hands, now resplendent in their original Victorian colour scheme, will be added to the clock dials, with the restored mechanism returning to the Tower later in the year.
Visitors to Westminster will begin to see further scaffolding removed from the Tower from the Autumn of 2021 and continuing through the Winter. Early in 2022, the bells – including Big Ben itself – will be reconnected to the original Victorian clock mechanism and will ring out across Westminster once again. The gantry, which has protected the Palace of Westminster throughout the works and supported the complex scaffolding structure, will be removed before the site is fully cleared prior to the Summer of 2022.
The clearance of the site marks the completion of the conservation project, with the site then handed over to teams who will prepare it for future use.
Managing the impact of coronavirus
Over the past year, Parliament has implemented a range of measures to ensure that construction sites on the Estate comply with Public Health England and Government guidance. On the Elizabeth Tower, we have promoted the use of shift work, installed new signage, increased hygiene measures, adapted welfare facilities to promote social distancing and implemented temperature checks for those entering the site.
Since the revised business case was approved in early 2020, the project has stuck rigidly to the revised budget of £79.7 million. Additional costs now incurred relate solely to the impact of COVID-19, which, like almost all construction projects across the country, has affected the progress of work.
A four-month site closure in 2020, investment in COVID-secure measures and the necessity of reduced productivity on site until November 2020 - introduced to ensure the safety of the project’s workforce – has resulted in additional costs of up to £9 million. This figure has now been scrutinised by independent consultants, who are confident in the projections that have been developed by teams in the House Service, recognising the exceptionality of the project and its highly specific requirements.
Parliament’s teams have mitigated against the financial impact of coronavirus, working collaboratively and positively with contractors to reduce the impact to the taxpayer, and ensuring that costs paid by Parliament are proportionate to its contractual obligations.
The project’s teams continue to meet the challenges posed by this complex conservation and enjoy the support of the leadership of both Houses in their delivery and approach. Work is now progressing well on the COVID-secure site, with teams now working at full capacity and making up for time lost at the height of the pandemic.
Parliament is delighted to gradually unwrap the Tower over the coming months, returning the iconic landmark to the London skyline and revealing the intricate work that has taken place over the last four years.