FILE PHOTO: British Union Jack flag flies in front of the clock face of Big Ben in London, Britain August 29, 2019. REUTERS/Toby Melville
LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s Big Ben bell in parliament’s landmark clock tower will ring at midnight on New Year’s Eve, marking the start of a year for the first time since its new face was revealed from under scaffolding halfway through restoration work.
The 96-metre-tall Elizabeth Tower, one of the most photographed buildings in Britain, has been enveloped in scaffolding for the last two years as the four clock dials are reglazed, ironwork repainted and intricately carved stonework cleaned and repaired.
In March, part of the scaffolding was removed, showing that the clock’s once black numerals and hands have been repainted blue, in line with what scientists say was its original color.
Since restoration work began in 2017, Big Ben has been largely silenced, sounding only for important events. It last tolled on Remembrance Day on Nov. 11.
The bell will be tested several times in the run-up to New Year’s Eve, parliament said in a statement.
The restoration of the entire Elizabeth Tower, worth an estimated 61 million pounds ($79.78 million), will see it repaired and redecorated, including bringing colors back to the original design.
The work is due to be completed in 2021 and will be followed by a 4-billion-pound restoration program of the entire parliament building.