After years of renovations, Big Ben will return to London from this weekend. Many associate this with the hope for better times.
Its shape is iconic, its sound known around the world: Big Ben. But for five years the bells were almost completely silent, and since 2017 the Elizabeth Tower, London’s famous clock tower, has been renovated.
From Sunday, the bells of London’s most famous landmark are to ring regularly – after more than five years. The two-minute silence to commemorate the fallen of the First World War next weekend will herald the return of the 12-beat chime, Britain’s Parliament said.
The renovation of Big Ben in London has cost over 90 million euros
This ends a long period of silence, which since 2019 has only been broken on special holidays. The bell was switched off in August 2017 to protect workers from the volume during the necessary renovation works, which cost the equivalent of more than €90 million.
The tower was on scaffolding for four years. Damage to the roof and facade was repaired and the original colors were restored. Big Ben has been open to tourists again since January. The name Big Ben refers to the heaviest of the five bells of the famous clock tower, weighing 13.5 tons, but is widely used for the entire building.
“The closing of Big Ben was seen as symbolic of a turbulent time in British politics,” Pauline MacLaran, Professor of Marketing and Consumer Research at Royal Holloway University in London, told editors. Its renewal is now seen as a positive sign and feeds the hope of a new beginning – not least because the renewal coincides with the appointment of Rishi Sunak as the new prime minister.
Big Ben: More British than tea and roast beef
Part of what makes many Brits feel British, Big Ben has a special place in the hearts of many people across the island. In a poll by opinion research institute Perspectus Global, 44 per cent of respondents said they were proud of the building, closely followed by roasts and tea at 42 per cent each and pubs at 37 per cent.
The media also contributed to this. On New Year’s Eve 1923, BBC The sounds of Big Ben live on the radio for the first time. Watching the minute hands reach the 12 o’clock position and the bells ringing in together in the New Year has been an integral part of New Year’s Eve for decades.
In addition, the landmark or icon of the Victorian era is also woven into the plot of many films. In a 1950s Disney film, Peter Pan descends clockwise. Mary Poppins floats from Big Ben with her umbrella. The tower has been blown up at least half a dozen times in action movies like 1996’s The Martian Attacks! and 2016’s “London Has Fallen.” It’s also featured on postcards, mugs, key chains and fridge magnets, and has even been immortalized as a giant piece of chocolate art.
The former palace in London fell victim to the fire of 1834
Built in the 1840s and 1850s, the neo-Gothic style of the work, part of the Palace of Westminster, was meant to evoke the freedom and intellectual culture of medieval cities with its towers and bay windows. The new Parliament building became necessary after the former palace was almost completely destroyed by a fire in 1834. For example, Westminster Hall has been preserved, the part in which Queen Elizabeth II lay for several days after her death in September.
Since the 19th century, the Elizabeth Tower rises above the parliament with the oldest democracy in the world, as the British point out. The first bell for the tower was cast in 1856 but broke during testing. The second copy also had to be renewed after a short time. Restored, the sound body finally sounded regularly from 1863 onwards. It is believed that the bell got its nickname “Big Ben” in reference to Benjamin Hall, who oversaw the work.
However, over the years, the Palace of Westminster and with it Big Ben fell into disrepair. The yellow limestone crumbled. It was raining from the cast iron roof. Rats inhabited the structure. While the restoration of the Elizabeth Tower is nearing completion, the renovation of the Palace of Westminster, home to the House of Commons and Lords, remains to be done – much to the chagrin of many officials and MPs.
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