IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

London's Big Ben falls silent

The chimes of Big Ben, the tower clock that is an iconic image of London, stopped on Saturday for retuning and maintenance work and will remain silent for over 24 hours, the longest period in more than two decades.
/ Source: Reuters

The chimes of Big Ben, the tower clock that is an iconic image of London, stopped on Saturday for retuning and maintenance work and will remain silent for over 24 hours, the longest period in more than two decades.

The clock, located in a tower of Britain’s parliament, the Palace of Westminster, became fully operational in 1859.

It was stopped on Saturday after the 8 a.m. (3 a.m. ET) chimes and is not expected to be back in action until 4 p.m. (11 a.m. ET) on Sunday. A spokesman for the clock’s maintenance team said engineers would be testing for cracks or damage.

“There is a lot of strain ... on that clock and obviously we’re quite concerned that it’s strong enough to maintain it,” Mike McGann told BBC television.

“There is nothing actually wrong, it is a routine maintenance that happens every 15 or 20 years.”

Big Ben, a focus of celebrations in England at New Year’s Eve, stopped in May for about 90 minutes, possibly due to the hot weather.

It was silent for longest in 1983, when the clock’s hands were removed for maintenance work.