The bongs of the iconic clock on the Elizabeth Tower chimed for the last time on Monday afternoon before falling silent for four years until the restoration work is completed.
The chimes will be silent until 2021, when the £29m renovation work on the tower is expected to be complete, but will however sound on special occasions such as Remembrance Sunday and New Year’s Eve.
It has been a controversial topic in the Parliament to silence this bell with Prime Minister Theresa May among the ones who said ‘It cannot be right’ for the bell not to chime regularly for four years.
“I think it’s the passing of something that means a great deal to a great many people – certainly to my constituents. It’s an elegiac moment of sombre sadness as the bells cease,” said Stephen Pound, Labour MP for Ealing North.
Support for the silence
A big crowd including international tourists and MPs had gathered outside the Palace of Westminster in the Parliament Square were cheering and applauding after the clock bonged for the final time.
There were a rank of MPs who were not against the idea of the Big Ben falling silent as they believed safety of the workers was a more significant factor and that it was not a day of national mourning.
“We’ve seen what happens when you scrimp on health and safety – Grenfell is the extreme example. Sometimes we have to strip away at some of the layers of sentimentality and tradition just for the sake of it.” said Rupa Huq, Ealing Central and Acton MP.
There were calls from three Conservative Eurosceptic MPs Peter Bone, Andrew Bridgen and Jacob Rees-Mogg for the bongs to ring at midnight after the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019.
This is not the first time the bells have fallen silent: they were stopped for maintenance in 2007, and between 1983 and 1985.