Friday, February 14, 2020


It is always affecting to the national spirit of many persons when they see a historical monument in their country sustain damage from whatever possible cause. There was a palpable weight in the faces of Parisians when they saw their landmark cathedral, the near-8507-year-old Notre-Dame de Paris, caught fire in early 2019. Over in London, the Elizabeth Tower of the Palace of Westminster, better known as Big Ben after the large bell inside its clock mechanism, is not as old as Notre-Dame since being completed in 1859, but Londoners cannot help but feel for the iconic tower after ongoing renovations revealed more unknown damage it took from World War II.

CNN reports that the restoration work for Elizabeth Tower or Big Ben of the Palace of Westminster in London, has discovered a greater extent of damage to the structure than earlier estimate, all inflicted by bombs dropped upon the city during the German Blitz of the Second World War. This fact was announced to the House of Commons nearby, as the Palace of Westminster of which the tower is part of is also known as the UK Parliament Building. This adds to the wear and tear of Big Ben which already has damage from earlier asbestos installations and air pollution.

Restoration efforts for Big Ben have been ongoing since 2017, when the titular bell and its fellows were silenced and the whole structure covered in scaffolding, with plans to complete the necessary repairs by next year. The discovery of additional WWII-era damage is estimate to tack on no less than £18.6 million ($24.3 million) more to the already-substantial repair costs, with the projected total now standing at £79.7 million ($104 million), all to replace the broken glass at the clock tower dials and old lead paint, among many other problems.

That said, it would take some supreme statesmanship in Parliament to get the additional funding passed, as while Londoners might feel something for old Big Ben they are not fans of the ever-increasing money being spent on the renovations, particularly during the confusion of a now-finalized Brexit. A House of Commons Commission spokesperson noted that they are asking for more detailed information on the war damages to ensure that the estimated add-on costs are necessary. The restoration crew is confident that all necessary work to the tower will be done by next year as promised.

But after Big Ben is finished, Parliament will have to temporarily move out as the rest of the Palace of Westminster itself will be subjected to renovation, this time costing £3.5 billion ($4.5 billion). At least the tower itself will be accessible to tourists, and they can even use a newly-installed internal elevator by then.

Image courtesy of CBS News


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