| 7.7°C Belfast

It's going, going, bong for Big Ben

Close

Onlookers gather outside the Palace of Westminster in central London as Big Ben’s bongs ring out for the last time before renovation work begins

Onlookers gather outside the Palace of Westminster in central London as Big Ben’s bongs ring out for the last time before renovation work begins

PA

Onlookers gather outside the Palace of Westminster in central London as Big Ben’s bongs ring out for the last time before renovation work begins

Big Ben's bongs fell silent yesterday ahead of a controversial renovation plan that will stop it ringing out for up to four years.

MPs and parliamentary workers gathered to listen as the Great Bell chimed noon before being halted to allow work to begin.

Hundreds of people watching from inside the parliamentary estate and outside its perimeter clapped and cheered as noon was struck.

Labour's Stephen Pound said it was a "desperately sad" moment and that the decision showed a "real poverty of imagination".

The 13.7-tonne Great Bell was last stopped for maintenance in 2007 and before that was halted for two years in 1983 for refurbishment, but has been stopped on a number of other occasions since it first sounded in 1859.

Officials said workers' hearing would be put at "serious risk" if the bell continued chiming, but Parliament is to review the plans.

Belfast Telegraph