Big Ben alerts Londoners about the time of day every hour, when it strikes an E note. Every 15 minutes, four quarter bells chime from the clock tower above the Houses of Parliament. But on Aug. 21, the striking hammers will be locked and the bell disconnected from the clock mechanism, until 2021 when restoration work on Elizabeth Tower, home to the bells and the Great Clock, has been completed.
A break from hourly bongs:
- The Great Bell, known worldwide as Big Ben, weighs 13.7 tonnes. Big Ben has marked the hour almost continuously for 157 years, except for when maintenance has been required -- in 1983, for example, and again in 2007.
- The Great Clock will be dismantled piece by piece and its four dials will be cleaned and repaired. An electric motor will keep clock hands turning until the main mechanism has been restored, so it will continue to tell the time.
- The bell will still toll for important events, including New Year's Eve and Remembrance Sunday. The landmark Elizabeth Tower is said to be the most photographed building in the United Kingdom.