Deafening Silence

Bella Trimmer and Stephanie West

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Imagine hearing a distinct, striking chime every quarter hour for almost all your life, and then all of a sudden, silence fills the streets. On August 21st, this became a reality for people living in London, England with Big Ben’s tolls ceasing for what will be a four year period due to maintenance. Elizabeth’s Tower, or Big Ben, is a famous clock tower that has been ringing in England for 158 years.

Big Ben, like a score of old English architecture, is in dire need for repair. The tower has been in a state of disarray for some time now, but examining the responses of Londoners to the bell tower’s sudden silence, it’s clear why lawmakers were somewhat hesitant to start work on the well-known monument. Big Ben has been around for 158 years, and yet its longest period of rest was for two years (from 1983-1985). Even the current Prime Minister, Theresa May, dislikes the decision to stop the chimes, saying the silence “cannot be right.” However, if the repairs aren’t completed soon, Parliament risks long-term damage to Big Ben. The clock’s mechanism, the structural integrity, safety measures, and energy efficiency are some of the issues that will be focused on during the period of restoration according to Parliament’s official website.

However, the bell will still toll for important national events such as New Year’s Eve and Remembrance Sunday. Remembrance Sunday is an important holiday in England that honors the lives lost in both world wars and all later conflicts. With its last ring on August 21st, Big Ben’s uniform quarterly chimes will not return for four years, with some exceptions.This lack of consistency from the clocktower will certainly give Londoners a shock, but these repairs are absolutely necessary for the continued function of the famous monument.

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