2014: Big Ben’s Clock Gets a Big Bath.

Cleaners abseil down
the face of the Great Clock of Westminster, working 60 metres up in the
air to clean its wafer-thin glass panels.

The Great Clock, which sits atop Parliament’s newly-named Elizabeth Tower, began ticking in 1859 and was last cleaned in 2010.

The four workers, wearing helmets and climbing gear, were tasked with
buffing and shining the 312 pieces of glass that make up the iconic
clock face on the Westminster tower that houses Big Ben. The glass
panels over the clock face are terribly thin and fragile, and birds can
fly into them and break them. This is why the window cleaners have to be
extremely careful.

The Elizabeth Tower and Great Bell have been scheduled for a major
renovation which is expected to last three years and is due to begin in
early 2017. Essential maintenance will be carried out on the clock
mechanism, which will be stopped for several months during which there
will be no chimes. Striking and tolling will however be maintained for
important events.

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