Listen up folks! There's big news for one of the capitols biggest tourist attractions (and one of our closest neighbours) The UKs most famous clock tower is going to fall silent so that urgent repair work can be carried out at a cost of a cool £29m, beginging in 2017. The Palace of Westminster says it has no choice but to stop the chimes of Big Ben, after 157 years of (nearly) unbroken service, to prevent its mechanism from failing. The clock will not be stopped for the entire three year period of the refurbishment, a spokesman from the Palace said "The clock mechanism will need to be stopped for several months in order to carry out essential maintenance," said the spokesman. The Big Ben nickname originally referred to the 13.5 tonne Great Bell within the tower, but has long been the commonly used name for the clock and tower as a whole. The refit could see the clock faces stripped of the black and gold paint that was applied in the 1980s to return them to their Victorian appearance, which is thought to feature green and gold paint. We think red and white would be much better of course! It's been 157 years since the famous clock - a symbol of London, standing 96m above the Houses of Parliament, running 24/7 (obviously!) The Elizabeth Tower, which is visited by over 12,000 people a year, is structurally sound but work is needed to fix cracks in its water-damaged masonry, cast-iron roof and belfry and the frame which holds the bells. Work will also take place to bring the building up to modern health and safety standards (eeek!) and a lift will be installed in one of the ventilation shafts improve access for disabled people who are unable to use the 334 stone steps. We'll be very that we won't have the bell chiming on the hour, as it always marks the beginning of our trips on the hour as we guide you past Parliament to begin your trips with us. So you better keep your eyes, and ears, peeled for news about our 2016/7 NYE trips on the Thames and possibly the last chance to hear the New Year rung in by Big Ben for a little while anyway! 7 Big Ben Facts 1. Completed in 1856, the tower was designed by architects Charles Barry and Augustus Welby Pugin, and took 13 years to build 2. It was constructed using 2600 cubic metres of brick and 850 cubic metres of stone, all of which were transported to Westminster by river 3. It was renamed Elizabeth Tower in 2012, to honour the Queen's Diamond Jubilee 4. The clock, designed by Edmund Beckett Denison, began keeping time on 31 May 1859 5. Its revolutionary 'Double Three-legged Gravity Escapement' design has been copied in clocks all over the world 6. The clock's chimes, or "bongs", are broadcast live by BBC Radio 4 7. It is considered to be within its "normal parameters" if it strikes within two seconds of the correct time
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