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More money needed for Big Ben Conservation Project

Thursday February 13th, 2020

The discovery of extensive Second World War bomb damage, pollution and asbestos in the Elizabeth Tower that houses Big Ben has pushed up the repair bill by an additional £18.6m, parliamentary authorities have been told.Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, London

The full scale of the conservation, which is on track for completion in late 2021, was only revealed once the project team was able to begin intrusive surveys for the first time ever on the 177-year-old structure.
The House of Commons and House of Lords Commissions were told that to restore the Tower to its previous splendour, the budget would need to rise from £61.1m to £79.7m.
A spokesperson for the House of Commons Commission said that Members of the Commission were “extremely disappointed” that more money was required – but they had been assured no more money would be asked for in order to restore the Tower to its former glory.
Both Commissions heard that painstaking examination of the 96m (315 feet) tall iconic tower had uncovered:
Decay and damage to hundreds of intricate carvings
Defects in previous work
Asbestos in the belfry
Extensive use of toxic lead paint
Broken glass in the clock dials
The need for a specialist clock expert
Additional scaffolding
In 2017, work began to examine and repair the Tower from the gilt cross and orb at its tip, to the bottom of its 334-step staircase.
Many hundreds of specialist craftspeople from all around the UK are contributing to this conservation project, employing traditional trades, including stone masonry, gilding, glass cutting and horology.
If approved by the Accounting Officers of each House, a new budget of £79.7m will be set for the project’s completion.

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