Today [21st March] the first of the Elizabeth Tower's newly restored clock dials is revealed, as the conservation project reaches a major milestone.
The North Dial of the Elizabeth Tower, which faces over Whitehall and the Embankment, is now fully visible as scaffolding surrounding it has been removed. The East Dial, which was previously visible, is now being covered to allow works to commence on it.
The new look North Dial is different to what we are used to, but is not new: it is in fact a return to the original design of Charles Barry and A.W. Pugin themselves.
Extensive historical research by the Architecture and Heritage team in Strategic Estates at Parliament, as well as expert paint analysis, revealed the original colour scheme, which over time had been transformed by pollution and overpainting.
The Great Clock’s hands and the surfaces of the cast iron frame have now been stripped clean, and repainted in a deep Prussian blue. The stonework has also been stripped of black paint, and the corners of the dial painted a vibrant Cobalt blue, with an extensive application of gold leaf. Temporary clock hands have been attached in place of the originals, which are undergoing conservation along with the rest of the Victorian clock mechanism.
324 pieces of glass in the North Dial were removed as part of the conservation, and replaced with new, expertly made pot-opal glass to match the Victorian original.
- Number of clock dials: 4
Clock dials diameter: 7m
Length of hour figures: 60cm
Clock dial frames: cast iron
Glass in each clock dial: 324 pieces of pot opal glass
- Material: copper sheet
Weight: 100kg, including counterweights
Distance travelled by minute hands per year: equivalent of 190km
- Material: gun metal
Weight: 300kg including counterweights
The hour figure of 4 o'clock is shown by the Roman numeral IV, rather than the usual IIII on other clocks.
More information about the project is available on our website.