Tuesday, 15 August 2017

the bell that rings the hour

Along with rather urgent plans to remodel and refurbish the Houses of Parliament, London’s public works will also be silencing Big Ben from next on to 2021 (with some exceptions, like for New Year’s) for repairs to the clockwork—and groaningly, the addition of an elevator for tourists.
Although not the first intermezzo for this icon, we hadn’t appreciated what a cultural touchstone and cue that the chimes could be for those outside of ear-shot. More used to hearing the pips, we weren’t aware that a live broadcast of the bells attended the 1800 and midnight BBC dispatches and the station surveyed the whole of the UK for a substitute for the interim. The chimes of Nottingham Council House (Big Tom) were considered but as the bells do not toll at midnight and weren’t an exact match, the network decided to use a recording during repairs.