Engineers have reconnected Big Ben ensuring the bell marks the start of the two minute silence for the Remembrance service this Sunday.
It’s a sound many of us are very familiar with, an iconic noise heard throughout London – the chimes of Big Ben. But since August the bells have been silent as the Elizabeth Tower undergoes repair work.
Every year, at the Service of Remembrance in London the two minute’s silence is conducted with military precision. On Horse Guard’s Parade, the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery fire their First World War guns to mark the start of the silence, and on Whitehall a Corps of Army Music bugler from the Household Division marks its end at precisely the same time that the guns fire again, 120 seconds later.
Ensuring the correct timing is all down to three soldiers standing next to the clock mechanism inside the Elizabeth Tower, who send radio signals to the troops on the ground.
In August, Parliament’s expert team of clock mechanics disconnected Big Ben from the clock mechanism and lowered the weights to the base of the tower, resulting in the famous chimes being temporarily stopped to provide a safe environment for the people working on the scaffolding.
However it has always been Parliament’s intention throughout the restoration project to reconnect the bells for important national events. In advance of Remembrance Sunday, the clock mechanics will be winding up the weights and reconnecting the hammers ready for Big Ben to strike again. Big Ben and the quarter bells will then be carefully adjusted to ensure accuracy on the day.
Tom Brake MP, Spokesman for the House of Commons Commission, said:
“’We cannot properly mark Remembrance Sunday without the solemn tolling of Big Ben. So millions of people around the world will be reassured to know that Big Ben’s bongs will ring out across Whitehall on Sunday at 11am, helping us to commemorate our soldiers’ sacrifice in the traditional way.”
Big Ben was silenced for conservation works at 12pm on 21 August this year. Renovation is expected to last for four years but the clock will be restarted for important national events.
The chimes will next ring out on Dec 23 for the Christmas period, falling silent again at 1pm on Jan 1.