Big Ben will be silent for 'several months' during urgent repairs

Big Ben is to fall silent while urgent repairs are carried out on the Elizabeth Tower and the famous clock, the House of Commons has announced.

There will be no "bongs" for "several months" as part of a £29 million programme to repair the clock faces and mechanism as well as cracks in the tower's masonry and corrosion in the roof.

Oh, and that's not all - the clock faces will also be given a new colour scheme. The Commons authorities are eager to reflect the original design by Augustus Pugin.

Big Ben
(Dominic Lipinski/PA)

In case you were wondering, the existing black and gold colouring around the clock faces was applied in the 1980s. So experts are now analysing the original paint that was used to decorate the areas surrounding each dial.

The 315ft (96m) Elizabeth Tower was completed way back in 1856. It needs work to repair cracks in places such as the frame which holds the bells - including Big Ben.

Parts of the Great Clock, which was installed in 1859, require urgent investigation and TLC too.

The work will take three years and is expected to start in early 2017.

Big Ben
(Philip Toscano/PA)

A House of Commons spokeswoman said: "The clock mechanism will need to be stopped for several months in order to carry out essential maintenance.

"During this period there will be no chimes. We are also investigating whether or not the chiming will have an effect on operatives working at high level, which will need to be taken into consideration. Striking and tolling will be maintained for important events."

Well, people on Twitter have some suggestions for how that could work.

Other people are just a bit unsure about how much these repairs are costing.

The programme of work will also see a lift installed as an alternative to the 334 steps to the top of the tower to improve access and safety.

And lights which illuminate the clock dials and belfry will be replaced by low-energy LEDs.

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