How much would you pay for a big bong? Boris Johnson is hoping the answer is around £500k, as he’s now encouraging the public to ‘bung a bob for a Big Ben bong’. Speaking on ‘BBC Breakfast’ this morning, the PM suggested that Brits should crowdfund for Big Ben to sound a ceremonial chime at 11pm on January 31 (the hour that the UK officially leaves the EU.)
But why does his polarising #bongforbrexit suggestion need so many pennies? Because the capital’s much-loved bell is currently without its clapper and, in order to sound in time for the occasion, the cost will reach a cool half million.
Why is Ben so quiet? In August 2017, it was announced that Big Ben would go into temporary retirement for four years in order to give the Elizabeth Tower (which houses the Great Clock and its famous bell) a refurb.
It’s not set to resume duties until 2021, although it has still bonged on New Year’s Eve and Remembrance Sunday each year.
Missing those iconic chimes? There’s visible progress. Early last year, the north clock face of the tower was treated to a rather swish paint job to restore the original Prussian blue colour it was given in 1859, and as of last October, its spire is visible.
There’s still a way to go until Ben stands tall in all his glory again, but he’s getting there. Maybe we should just leave him be?
In the meantime, check out these facts you probably didn’t know about Big Ben.