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.
Work is 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 will gradually unwrap the Tower over the coming months, revealing the intricate work that has taken place over the last four years.
In the Summer of 2021, the complex task of installing the restored clock mechanism will begin. Following years of 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.
Further scaffolding will be 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.
About the conservation project
It has been over 32 years since the last extensive works were carried out to maintain the clock and Elizabeth Tower. Essential conservation work is now underway to:
- Repair problems identified with the Elizabeth Tower and the Great Clock, which cannot be rectified whilst the clock is in action. This includes deterioration to the masonry, leaks, erosion, and severe corrosion of the metalwork.
- Conserve significant elements of the Tower, as designed by architects Charles Barry and Augustus Welby Pugin. This includes returning the colour scheme back to the original design.
- Repair and redecorate the interior, renew the building services and make improvements to health and safety and fire protection systems.
Since the site reopened in July significant progress has been made in spite of the challenging conditions. This has included:
- Dismantling/removing the scaffolding around the roof of the Tower – revealing the intricate work that has been completed. Each of the 3,433 cast iron roof tiles were removed and taken to a specialist workshop in northern England.
- Infrastructure and fire safety works have been progressing, ensuring that the Elizabeth Tower remains fit for 21st century use.
- The Ayrton Light has been restored and reinstalled and now only awaits its new energy-efficient electrical light fittings.
- In the Belfry the internal scaffolding has been removed, access to the Ayrton Light improved and the work to the floor is now complete.
For more information about the Elizabeth Tower and the conservation project, visit Parliament's website.
Copyright images: ©UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor