The UK Parliament this week announced a three-year programme of essential works to conserve the Elizabeth Tower, the Great Clock and the Great Bell, also known as Big Ben, which is due to begin in early 2017.
Completed in 1856, the Elizabeth Tower was designed by architects Charles Barry and Augustus Wellby Pugin, and took 13 years to build. The Great Clock was first installed in the Clock Tower in April 1859 and has served for over 157 years of nearly unbroken service. Today, the Elizabeth Tower suffers from problems common in buildings of a similar age. The last time significant work was carried out to the Tower was in 1983-85.
When the Tower was built over 157 years ago, workplace health and safety and fire prevention systems were not included. In addition to the conservation work, other work will be carried out to improve and upgrade health and safety and fire prevention for staff and visitors within the Tower, including installing a lift.
The existing black and gold colouring around the clock dials was applied in the 1980s. Parliament’s team of conservation architects is currently analysing the original paint used to decorate the surrounding areas to each clock dial. Once a clear picture of the early colour schemes has been built up, the stonework will be repainted to reflect, as far as possible, Pugin’s original design.
As the Tower is 96 metres tall, scaffolding is needed to enable workers to reach high levels safely. Scaffolding will be dismantled as the work is completed from the top, and at least one clock face will be on show at all times. As a Grade I listed building within a UNESCO World Heritage site, the 160-year-old Tower is subject to listed building consent. This programme of works has been carefully planned in consultation with Historic England.
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 chiming or striking. Striking and tolling will be maintained for important events. The bells did not chime for a period of around nine months when the clock underwent a major overhaul in 1976. In 2007 the bells were stopped for a period of 6 weeks, whilst essential maintenance works were carried out.
The lantern at the top of the Elizabeth Tower is called the Ayrton Light, lit when either House of Parliament is sitting after dark. It was installed in 1885 at the request of Queen Victoria so that she could see from Buckingham Palace when the members were sitting. The light also shines in all directions to show everyone when either House is sitting. The Ayrton Light needs to be fully dismantled and restored. A substitute light will shine whilst the Ayrton light is being repaired.
Steve Jaggs, Keeper of the Clock, said: “This historic clock is loved by so many people. It is both an honour and a great responsibility to keep it in good working order for public enjoyment. Every day our team of highly skilled clock mechanics cares for this Victorian masterpiece but, in order to keep the Clock ticking, we must now take the time to thoroughly inspect and restore it.”
Keith Scobie-Youngs FBHI ACR, Clock maker, the Cumbria Clock Company, said: “The Great Clock is one of the finest examples of Victorian clock making. It is a wonderful clock, with huge significance to the nation. Having been in operation for so many years, it is absolutely vital that time is taken to really investigate the mechanism and understand any potential problems which may have an impact on its accuracy. ”
The UK Parliament this week announced a three-year programme of essential works to conserve the Elizabeth Tower, the Great Clock and the Great Bell, also known as Big Ben, which...
Keith is a local man with experience, not only in local policing but also of security systems across the world. At a time when Humberside Police has been struggling to deliver the sort of service people rightly expect, Keith would bring new focus and energy to leading the force. The PCC Election is on the 5th May.
Keith's main election leaflet can be seen here.
Keith is a local man with experience, not only in local policing but also of security systems across the world. At a time when Humberside Police has been struggling to...
Thank you for re-electing me in 2015 to serve the Scunthorpe County Constituency which includes Scunthorpe, Bottesford, East Butterwick, Hibaldstow, Kirton-in-Lindsey, Messingham, Redbourne, Scawby, and the smaller villages to the south of Scunthorpe. It is a real privilege and responsibility to represent these communities as your MP.
As I have done for the 5 years of the last Parliament I am producing an Annual Report of my work representing local people and giving the opportunity for constituents who want to, to attend a meeting where I will answer any questions on my role as your MP. This meeting is scheduled for 16th June at Redbourne Club, Cemetery Road, Scunthorpe. If you intend to attend please email me on email@example.com to book your place.
Thank you for re-electing me in 2015 to serve the Scunthorpe County Constituency which includes Scunthorpe, Bottesford, East Butterwick, Hibaldstow, Kirton-in-Lindsey, Messingham, Redbourne, Scawby, and the smaller villages to the... Read more
Well it’s hard to remember a budget falling apart as quickly as George Osborne’s latest one has!
On Budget Day the Chancellor was in command of his world. He told a great story! But within 24 hours the facts were catching up with him. Conservative MPs to their credit joined Labour MPs, like myself, to say that the cuts to disability payments were a cut too far. So he dropped the £4.4 billion of savings his cuts to the disabled would have yielded. He’s still going ahead though with the £2.3 billion cut in Employment Support Allowance which affects many of the same people. With this change made the Chancellor came back to the Commons to push his Budget through. But he wouldn’t tell us how he will fill this £4.4 billion black hole now evident in his figures. If a local council tried to set a budget that didn’t add up it would be prevented from setting an illegal budget. But our Conservative Government just shrugs its shoulders, smiles and presses on!
It is pressing on with the nonsense of forcing all schools to become academies whether parents or schools want it. This is an absurd distraction for great local school leaders – like Ben Lawrence of Frederick Gough who spelt out so powerfully in last week’s Scunthorpe Telegraph what a waste of time and energy this is. There is absolutely no evidence to support the forced academisation of successful schools. And it’s not as though there aren’t things going wrong on this most ideological of Government’s watch; things they really ought to be putting right. The Conservatives preside over the biggest teacher recruitment crisis for decades, a growing school places crisis and impending chaos over their poorly managed, rushed changes to exams. In addition we have careers education in its worst state ever and post-16 seriously underfunded with potentially devastating consequences. The Conservative schools agenda is purely ideological. They think they know better than parents or communities what’s best for our children. That’s why they are removing the right of parents to be governors of their children’s schools at the same time as insisting on all schools becoming academies. And when we asked the Secretary of State to rule out good or outstanding schools being taken over by failing Multi Academy Trusts she refused to do so. Flabbergasting! Only last month Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools called on the Government to act to deal with the failures of 7 large Multi Academy Trusts, including the 2 biggest that run 113 schools between them. And only last week Perry Beeches Trust, that runs 5 Birmingham schools and has been lauded by the Conservatives, was found to be in serious breach of financial regulations. Perhaps the Government would better spend its energies sorting out the problems in current academies and other failing schools and leave the ones, like Frederick Gough and others locally, who are doing a good job to get on with doing exactly that.
Well it’s hard to remember a budget falling apart as quickly as George Osborne’s latest one has! On Budget Day the Chancellor was in command of his world. He told...
It is expected that in the next few hours the Chancellor will reveal that every school in England will be forced to convert into an academy by 2022.
It seems that the government appears to see academisation as the panacea for school improvement. Yes, Labour’s sponsored academy programme did a huge amount to transform a small number of failing schools in disadvantaged areas - and brought much needed investment, support and innovation. And it’s a legacy we are proud of. But our school improvement programme was never about turning all schools into academies.
The Tory record on education is one of a teacher shortage crisis, a school places system which is broken, a widening attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their peers, and exams and assessments in schools in chaos.
There is no evidence to suggest that academisation in and of itself leads to school improvement. Only last week the Chief Inspector of Schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw, wrote to the Secretary of State for Education highlighting ‘serious weaknesses’ in academy chains. How the government can plough ahead with the wholesale academisation of all schools in light of his evidence beggars belief. We want to see robust accountability and oversight of all schools regardless of type. The balance in my view, between local accountability and central control, has gone completely the opposite way. It’s a balance that needs redressing.
We need stronger local oversight and accountability of all schools regardless of whether they’re an academy or a free school. Local authorities – as partners – have a key role to play in tackling the root causes of low attainment and low aspiration in their area; in reducing inequality and creating a productive economy.
In some parts of the country where standards remain a concern, all schools are already academies, yet the government has no other school improvement strategy. The government only has one education policy, but the truth is delivering educational excellence in all schools goes way beyond a narrow argument on academies versus local authority schools. Failure exists in both school types, just as excellence does.
It’s about time the government came forward with a comprehensive plan for school improvement for all children, in all schools up and down the country, and a serious strategy for raising standards for the next generation.
It is expected that in the next few hours the Chancellor will reveal that every school in England will be forced to convert into an academy by 2022. It seems...