Britain's Big Ben falls silent for 4 years

The Elizabeth Tower which houses the Great Clock and the 'Big Ben' bell is seen above the Houses of Parliament in central London Britain

Watch Big Ben's final chimes at the top of this page.

At midday, 12 bongs from the famous bell rang out in front of around 1,000 local residents, tourists and MPs who came out to mark Big Ben's longest silence in its 157-year history for extensive fix work.

The giant bell atop Parliament's clock tower sent a dozen deep bongs into a gray sky at noon, marking the hour as it has done nearly continuously since 1859.

However, they added Big Ben will still sound on occasions such as New Year's Eve and Remembrance Sunday.

Asked by the Press Association if he was joking, he replied: "No, of course I'm not, of course we're going to be there - a group of like-minded traditionalists". "Yet none of them bowed their heads at Grenfell Tower", he wrote on Twitter.

Adam Watrobski, principal architect at the Houses of Parliament, said authorities are well aware of how much interest the bell and the tower generate.

Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake, who answers his colleagues' questions on the Commission's behalf, said one concession could be allowing Big Ben to chime on more special occasions.

Lee, who owns Thwaites & Reed, one of the UK's oldest clockmakers, which maintained the Great Clock at Westminster for more than 30 years from the mid 1970s, said: "There is something amiss".

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The name Big Ben actually refers to the bell, which is over seven feet tall, but has come to signify the entire tower.

'Even if it is more expensive, if it is done in half the time everyone benefits'. Pro-Brexit MPs want it to also sound on the day the process of exiting the European Union is complete, expected in March 2019.

When "Big Ben bongs, you'll know it", a TUC statement said.

After 12 deep bongs at noon, the bell will begin its longest period of silence since it first sounded in 1859. "Constant proximity to the chimes would pose a serious risk to their hearing, and would prevent efficient working".

An emergency lift will also be installed in the tower, which receives 12,000 visitors a year, who now have to be evacuated using an abseiling rig if they fall ill. It was only when we stopped the clock to do some repairs on the mechanism itself that the chimes were silenced.

Following this week's announcement, a handful of high-ranking British officials - including Prime Minister Theresa May and Conservative cabinet minister David Davis - objected publicly to stopping the clock's chimes.

"We expect to make an announcement regarding the contract in the autumn".

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