The scaffolding went up in August of 2017 for the largest restoration project ever undertaken on the Elizabeth Tower and its famous clock and we are finally able to see the results!
The photo on the far left was taken just prior to the start of the conservation project; in the middle photo the works are in progress, and the far right is the big reveal. So what has been going on with it during this whole time? Well, Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin's masterpiece is a perfect example of well-designed Victorian architecture but not even the best build cannot win against time and the elements. So things like a crumbling facade, rusty ironwork, and a leaky roof needed to be put right for starters. A lift was installed as well, to make it easier for maintenance and emergency services to access the Tower. The interior was also repaired and redecorated, and improvements made to health and safety as well as fire protection systems. The Tower has been made more energy efficient in order to reduce its environmental impact.
But what about the controversy that the dials and clock hands are blue when they were previously black? Was this a mistake? No, based on paint analysis, as well as an examination of old photos, it was determined that the dials and hands were originally Prussian blue and gold while nearby surfaces sported the red, white, and blue colours of the Union flag. They have now been restored to this original colour scheme, which had been masked by black paint since the 1930s, possibly to cover up the effects of pollution.
And there is something else for visitors to look forward to as well: a giant glass box has been installed to give everyone a better view of Big Ben as well as of the other bells!