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London's Big Ben to Go Silent for Four Years

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This is What’s Trending Today.

That is the sound of Big Ben.

People from London like to call the ringing of Big Ben “bongs.” They mark the start of a new hour.

Big Ben is the name of the large bell inside the clock tower above Britain’s Houses of Parliament. The tower is part of the Palace of Westminster. There are other smaller bells, too.

The structure that houses Big Ben is one of the most famous sights in the country. It is called the Elizabeth Tower.

Big Ben started making its bongs 158 years ago. But beginning on August 21, it will go silent for four years. The bell will ring for the last time at 12 noon.

The bell will be disconnected from the clock as crews launch a major repair project in the tower.

The clock, however, will continue to tell the time, silently.

The only time people in London will hear the bells will be on Remembrance Sunday, which falls on November 12th this year, and New Year’s Eve.

Some people are making plans to be in London for the final bongs before the four-year silence.

The renovation project will cost about $40 million, said Steve Jaggs. He is known as “The Keeper of the Great Clock.”

Jaggs said the goal is to keep the building safe and the famous timepiece working for future generations to enjoy.

The clock faces and many of the clock’s moving parts will be taken apart and cleaned. Rust will be removed and an elevator will be built for workers to use.

The last time the bell stopped ringing for repairs was in 2007. It was also silent for the funerals of former Prime Ministers Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher.

There was reaction to the silencing of Big Ben on social media.

Joana reacted to the news on Twitter. She proposed that there be “one minute of silence for the lost bongs of Big Ben.”

And that’s What’s Trending Today.

I’m Dan Friedell.

Dan Friedell wrote this story for VOA Learning English based on reports by Reuters, The Washington Post and The Guardian. George Grow was the editor.

Will you miss Big Ben’s bongs? We want to know. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

tower – n. a tall, narrow building or structure that may stand apart from or be attached to another building or structure

rust – n. a reddish color that can form on objects made of iron

clock – n. an instrument for measuring time; a timepiece

noon – n. the middle of the day; 12 o'clock in the daytime

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