One of London’s most iconic sights is set to emerge from beneath its scaffolding in a ‘key moment’ for its restoration.
Big Ben’s spire has been shrouded since 2017, but on Monday the cover surrounding the tower will slowly start to be peeled back.
Parts of Parliament’s 98-metre Elizabeth Tower will once again be visible, as workers begin to remove the scaffolding that has covered it during its restoration – set to be completed in 2021.
Only the uppermost part of frame surrounding the structure will be removed at this stage, with conservation work continuing in earnest on the rest of the tower.
More of the freshly-restored rooftop and spire will emerge over the next five weeks.
The tower, part of the Palace of Westminster, a Grade 1 listed Unesco World Heritage Site, is a little more than halfway through a four-year conservation project to fix problems, including crumbling stone and a leaky roof.
Adam Watrobski, principal architect on the project, said: “The first section of scaffolding coming down is a key moment in the project.
“It means that we are getting nearer the end and that people can again enjoy this symbol of our nation and of democracy.
“A lot of hard work and ingenuity has brought us to this point, and while there is much work still to be done, it is worth pausing to appreciate how far we have come.”
The name Big Ben is often used to describe the Elizabeth Tower, the clock and the bell, but the name was first given to the Great Bell itself.
When the stonemasons, ironworkers, painters, gilders and scaffolders have completed the conservation work, the tower will be reopened to the public.
A new exhibition on the 160-year-old tower will also be installed.
Charlotte Claughton, senior project leader, said: “Removing the scaffolding in stages is part of our commitment to make sure as much as possible of this iconic landmark is visible to the public.
“We share the world’s love of the tower and the clock and I know the whole team feel so privileged to be part of this project.
“And now we get to show everyone a bit more of what we have been working on.”