>> Big Ben's bongs have marked the hour almost without pause since 1859. Now they'll fall silent for four years of renovations to the clock tower. Tourists and locals gathering before the Westminster landmark on Monday to hear the last of the world's most famous chime for now. I'm Lucy Fielder, reporting from outside Parliament.
Big Ben will still ring on special occasions, like New Years Eve and Remembrance Sunday, but the rest of the time, the hammers will remain locked. It's the longest silence in the history of the bell that famously chimed throughout the blitz in World War II, so that's caused quite a stir.
>> Well, of course->> Prime Minister Theresa May has chimed in.>> But it can't be right for Big Ben to be silent for four years.>> Parliament is now looking into whether it could ring on other occasions, too.
went up the Elizabeth tower to hear one of the last bongs of the Great Bell, Big Ben's proper name.
e bells are deafening up close. If they kept running during the renovation, workers would have to wear ear defenders which could be dangerous in an emergency. They'll be checking the bells for fractures and renovating a clock that's more than 150 years old and still accurate. Ian Westworth is one of the clockkeepers who climb the 334 steps three times a week to wind it and check the time.
>> We're going to take this opportunity to dismantle and repair everything from the clock. So right from the hands all the way back to the clock movements itself will be totally dismantled and removed from the tower. And then the cables up to the bell hammers, we'll take the bell hammers off.
They'll all be refurbished. So we are going to take this opportunity to make sure that everything is done for the future.>> One working clock face powered by an electric motor will remain visible, keeping time until 2021 when the Great Bell tolls once again.