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Big Ben’s face has been painted blue

James Manning

On August 21 2017, after bonging its usual midday chimes, Big Ben was silenced for four years of refurb work. Shortly afterwards, the tower that houses London’s most famous clock was covered up by scaffolding, with only one face left showing. Now some of that scaffolding has come down – and Ben’s looking a little more colourful than the last time we saw him.

The north clock face of the Elizabeth Tower has been given a paint job to restore the original ‘Prussian blue’ colour it was given in 1859. Pollution and weathering steadily turned the paint black from the 1930s, and eventually, during the ’80s, it was just painted black. Here’s what it looked like, in case you’ve already forgotten…

Photograph: Eerko Vissering

Now scientific analysis of the surface has established that it was originally blue, and the restoration works have wound the (aesthetic) clock back. Other bits of the tower have also been restored to Charles Barry’s original design, removing heaps of black paint and restoring the row of St George’s crosses above the clock face.

You can currently check out the difference side-by-side, as the restored north face and the unrestored east face are both showing. It’s a distinctly different look for London’s most Instagrammed landmark, and, Londoners being Londoners, there’ll be plenty of opinions on it. Still, it’s a nice change from Brexit.

(And yes, of course we know that Big Ben is the bell.)

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