London's 'Big Ben' tower more badly damaged by Nazi bombs than thought


Category:  News & Politics

Via:  perrie-halpern  •  8 months ago  •  15 comments

By:   Reuters

London's 'Big Ben' tower more badly damaged by Nazi bombs than thought
Although the tower survived Nazi bombing, its roof and dials were damaged in a May 1941 air raid which destroyed the main House of Commons chamber.

Big Ben's hourly chimes fall silent for repairs to its tower

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

LONDON — Britain's Elizabeth Tower at the Houses of Parliament was more badly damaged by German bombs during World War Two than originally thought, experts said on Thursday, as the bill for its restoration rose by nearly 20 million pounds ($25 million).

The 177-year-old tower has been swathed in scaffolding for the past three years as craftsmen refurbish its stonework and famous 12-tonne clock and its bell, known as Big Ben.

Being able to get close to the 315-foot (96m) tower has allowed them to spot other problems like damage caused by pollution and asbestos.

The House of Commons and House of Lords Commissions said they had been told that to restore the tower to its previous splendour, the budget would need to rise from 61.1 million to 79.7 million pounds.

Ian Ailles, director general of the House of Commons, said the task of restoring the tower had been more complex than anticipated.

“... understanding the full extent of the damage to the tower was impossible until the scaffolding was up," he said in a statement.

Among other problems, bomb damage inflicted on the tower during the Second World War had been found to be more extensive than first thought.

Although the tower survived Nazi bombing, its roof and dials were damaged in a May 1941 air raid which destroyed the main House of Commons chamber.

The latest refurbishment of the structure, during which its 13-tonne Big Ben bell has been largely silenced, is expected to be finished next year.

Work on the structure — renamed the Elizabeth Tower in 2012 — is separate from the planned full-scale restoration of the Palace of Westminster which has been estimated to cost 4 billion pounds and is due to start in the mid-2020s.


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Buzz of the Orient
1  Buzz of the Orient    8 months ago

Wasn't it going to cost half a million Pounds to ring the bell for Brexit?  I find it hard to believe that the British government had even contemplated wasting that much money for such a senseless reason  

Buzz of the Orient
1.1.1  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Split Personality @1.1    8 months ago

The NY Times is blocked here, so I would appreciated your copying and pasting whatever the link is for. 

Split Personality
1.1.2  Split Personality  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1.1.1    8 months ago

Will Big Ben Chime for Brexit? It’s a $650,000 Question

A campaign is underway to get the British Parliament’s great bell to ring when the country leaves the E.U. on Jan. 31. But there are hurdles: the cost and repairs.

merlin_161400870_2bf3464e-e5a2-4a55-be61-10645f718466-articleLarge.jpg?quality=75&auto=webp&disable=upscale, 1024w, 2048w" sizes="((min-width: 600px) and (max-width: 1004px)) 84vw, (min-width: 1005px) 60vw, 100vw" >
The British Parliament’s famous clock tower is being renovated. But pro-Brexit lawmakers want its main bell, Big Ben, to chime for withdrawal from the European Union. Credit... Matt Dunham/Associated Press

LONDON — When Britain leaves the European Union at the end of the month , it must secure trade ties to the Continent, revamp its migration rules and reset relations with global partners like the United States, to name just a few looming challenges.

But the question gripping Brexit supporters is whether the moment of departure will be marked by the familiar chimes of Big Ben.

Inconveniently, the country’s most famous clock tower is under repair, like much of the crumbling parliamentary estate, yet that has not stopped a vigorous campaign to bring it back to life for a brief moment of history.

“Big Ben Must Bong For Brexit,” screamed a front-page headline in the British tabloid The Daily Express , which was superimposed on a picture of the clock minus the scaffolding and cladding that conceal it.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested that the 500,000-pound cost (about $650,000) of restoring the chimes for the night could be raised by crowd funding. But his office later conceded that there was no official way for the public to contribute.

“Boris’ bonkers ‘bung a bob for Big Ben Brexit bongs’ bid bombs,” was the verdict of another tabloid, The Daily Mirror , as frustrated Brexit enthusiasts hinted of a plot against them and suggested that church bells ring out instead. (The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers has responded with skepticism .)

The debate has exposed the government’s surprising awkwardness over how to commemorate the end of 47 years of European integration, an ambition that helped bring Mr. Johnson to power but has also divided the nation.

Although he won a convincing parliamentary majority in last month’s election , he achieved this largely by uniting the pro-Brexit vote in a way that guaranteed victory under the British system. In fact, a majority of voters supported parties that wanted either a second referendum on Brexit or to scrap it altogether.

For days Downing Street has stalled when asked what will happen when Britain officially leaves the bloc, not at midnight on Jan. 31, but at 11 p.m. (The timing is dictated, like much else in the Brexit negotiations so far, by Brussels, which is in a different time zone.)

Mr. Johnson seems queasy about the moment being hijacked by Nigel Farage, the leader of the Brexit Party, who plans a celebration outside Parliament.

But the prime minister also appears to be unsure what note to strike over an issue that has split the nation for three years. Brexit was originally scheduled to happen last March, and previous preparations have had to be scrapped, with commemorative coins being melted down when Britain was forced to make a second request for more time.

To critics of the Big Ben idea, it illustrates their fear that Brexit is motivated by nostalgia and a wish to bask in the afterglow of a long-lost British Empire.

Some Brexit supporters yearn for a restoration of the blue passports they carried in the 1970s (Britain, like other European Union nations, adopted a maroon passport), and some have campaigned for a new royal yacht.

“The obsession with Big Ben chiming really highlights the shallowness of the Vote Leave campaign,” Neil Gray, a lawmaker with the Scottish National Party, wrote on Twitter.

Most analysts say they believe that the 2016 vote for Brexit was more about identity and a sense of sovereignty than economics, and according to research by Bloomberg Economics , the cost of Brexit has already hit £130 billion, with a further £70 billion set to be added by the end of this year.

So national symbols are important to many Brexit supporters, and those who want Big Ben to chime argue that despite the renovation work, the bell has been struck on specific occasions — including on New Year’s Eve.

Dozens of lawmakers, including perhaps the most outspoken Brexit supporter, Mark Francois, signed a letter to The Sunday Telegraph , urging that Big Ben not stay silent on Jan. 31.

“We believe this would be much to the consternation of many people around the U.K. who wish to celebrate this momentous event,” they wrote.

Mr. Farage has weighed in, too, saying that at his planned celebration outside Parliament, he might be forced to play a recording of the chimes.

“I frankly think that, around the world, at that moment at 11 p.m., if Big Ben doesn’t strike, our country looks like a joke,” he told LBC Radio.

The House of Commons says that the clock mechanism that usually powers the hammer that strikes the Great Bell, as Big Ben is formally known, has been dismantled and removed for refurbishment. (While Big Ben is a nickname for the clock, which is called the Great Clock and sits atop the tower, it is strictly speaking the name of the main bell in the clock. The name is also often used to refer to the Elizabeth Tower, the structure that contains the clock.)

Buzz of the Orient
1.1.3  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Split Personality @1.1.2    8 months ago

Thank you, SP.  I appreciate the courtesy.  

John Donne once wrote in his Meditation XVII (and I paraphrase) Seek not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.  During Donne's time, the tolling of the bell was to announce the death of a local citizen, and the significance of the phrase was that when one person dies, we all die a little.  I guess there is some significance in that the tolling of Big Ben would mark the death of Britain's membership in the EU and there are those who deem that to be a fatality.  Personally, I think the moment would have been just as well marked by a spectacular fireworks display that could have happened throughout the land, since only Londoners would hear the bong live, while others would have to hear it over TV or radio. 

Vic Eldred
2  Vic Eldred    8 months ago

 its roof and dials were damaged in a May 1941 air raid which destroyed the main House of Commons chamber.

The House of Commons chamber was destroyed?   I'll bet few people know that.

2.1  SteevieGee  replied to  Vic Eldred @2    8 months ago

Guy Fawkes failed but the nazis got lucky.

Perrie Halpern R.A.
2.1.1  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  SteevieGee @2.1    8 months ago
The House of Commons chamber was destroyed?   I'll bet few people know that.

I think you are right Vic! I have to say, it's a lot of fun to go and watch. For a very proper people, they are wild in session. 

Guy Fawkes failed but the nazis got lucky.

You are 100% right!

Remember, remember, the 5th of November
The Gunpowder Treason and plot ;
I know of no reason why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot

That is a good time in London. Kind of their Independence day.

Buzz of the Orient
2.1.2  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @2.1.1    8 months ago

Isn't the 5th of November known as Guy Fawkes Day?  I recall having learned that in school.

2.1.3  SteevieGee  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @2.1.1    7 months ago

I was in Scotland on Guy Fawkes day a few years ago.  They celebrate by having bonfires.  We were going to go to one but it was pouring rain so we stayed in.

Perrie Halpern R.A.
2.1.4  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  SteevieGee @2.1.3    7 months ago
They celebrate by having bonfires.  We were going to go to one but it was pouring rain so we stayed in.

See, if you were Scottish, you would put on your kilt and gone!

I actually didn't know that they celebrated, given that as late as the 1700's they were fighting for a Catholic king and so was Guy Fawkes... so I guess they gave up on that idea.

Perrie Halpern R.A.
2.1.5  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @2.1.2    7 months ago

Indeedy Buzz. Lots of holidays going on that time of the year. The whole month of November is for honoring Armesist day. They all wear red poppies to commemorate.

3  Kavika     8 months ago

Big Ben plays quarterback for the Steelers. I thought that it was his shoulder that was damaged. I didn't know anything about this clock being damaged. 

3.1  SteevieGee  replied to  Kavika @3    7 months ago

I think his bell got rung.


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