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Can we continue to hear Big Ben during repair?

Posted August. 22, 2017 08:21,   

Updated August. 22, 2017 08:53


Painter Claude Monet went to London from Paris in 1870 to avoid being drafted into the Franco-Prussian War that broke out that year. He was only 30 years old. The city of London was the world's biggest city in the Victorian age in the British Empire when Queen Victoria was in reign. Monet was especially attracted to the greyish fog on London, which had an urban feel different from France's brilliant sunshine and fresh green. 


Monet returned to France a year later and visited London several times. His works contained Westminster at the Thames River and Big Ben clock tower, which displayed different seasons, time and light. The world's first parliament and Big Ben that is the symbol of industrialization must have been hugely impressive to a painter from France characterized with absolute monarchy and long agricultural history. 


Big Ben was installed in 1859. The 13.5-ton bell is named after Sir Benjamin Hall, the man who was commissioner of works when it was installed. The hour pointer measures 2.7 meters long while the minute pointer measures 4.3 meters. Its name was officially changed to Elizabeth Tower in 2012, the 60th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II, but the name Big Ben is still more familiar. Big Ben is like Bosingak in central Seoul. The Seoul city government hosts the annual bell-tolling ceremony at Bosingak at midnight to ring in the New Year's Eve. When Big Ben strikes midnight crowds gather to welcome in the new year and sing Auld Lang Syne. Though Big Ben went through some repairs in 1976, 1997 and 2004, the bell ringing every 15 minutes always had the same sound.


In its 158th year, Big Ben will be undergoing a massive remake from next month as it will be completely dismantled and redone. This is because of aging that has caused bell to ring at wrong times. Accompanying costs are estimated at 29 million pounds (about 42.5 billion won). The British parliament initially said there will be no bell ringing during repair for hearing protection of repair workers, but later said they will reconsider due to harsh resistance by the parliament that said the country is trying to do things that even German air force couldn't. Big Ben's bell rang even when the Nazis were making air raid against London with more than 200 combat planes during World War II. Will it be possible for Big Ben to continue ringing?

Su-Jin Cho jin0619@donga.com