In London, the roof of the Elizabeth Tower (more commonly known as Big Ben) will become visible again from the 28th of September 2020, as the scaffolding begins to be removed. It’s been concealed behind this scaffolding for three years, as part of a complex conservation project.
Over the course of six weeks through October and into November, the newly restored roof will be revealed. Expert scaffolders will take down the scaffolding (which is in very restricted space around the Tower itself). At this stage, the scaffolding will only be removed from the roof, while work continues on the rest of the Tower for some time to come.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker of the House of Commons, said:
“Like everyone else, I have been looking forward to seeing the scaffolding come down on Elizabeth Tower – so the unveiling of the roof will be a memorable moment.
“We could all do with some good news in this Covid world, so it is very exciting to actually see some more of this great icon.
“I am hoping the conservation work that has taken place on the tower – an important symbol of our democracy – will assure its place in London’s skyline for generations to come.”
There has been extensive work to restore both the inside and the outside of the Elizabeth Tower, including more than three thousand roof tiles and a spire with complex flowers, a cross and an orb. Crumbling stone and a leaky roof are among the issues being addressed by the conservation work.
Every one of the 3,433 cast iron roof tiles was taken off and brought to a specialist restorer in northern England. The ones that could be repaired were stripped of their old finishing surfaces, and any further weaknesses or faults were repaired before they were recovered with a weatherproof grey paint. The Tower’s iconic metal cross and orb, which stands 96m above the ground, has also been restored. Once the tiles, cross and orb were put back on the tower, a team of expert gilders re-gilded them, matching the original design from 1859.
This work was not easy in the small 12m square footprint of the site in pandemic conditions, and with the Tower being literally in the middle of a working Parliament, but good progress continues. In the belfry, all the internal scaffolding has also been removed and the floor restoration is underway.