Photos | Big Ben’s original colour scheme to be restored
The clock dial frames and the hands of Big Ben are to be repainted in a return to the original Victorian colour scheme, in tandem with the restoration of the Elizabeth Tower.
The repaint is part of a project which is intended to restore Big Ben to its former glory by reverting to colours used by Charles Barry in 1859, with his initial design.
This includes the installation of white opalescent glass, painting the dials in Prussian blue and gold, the removal of the black paint to the surrounding stonework, and the rebuilding of other features.
There will be a row of six shields above the dial, each of which will display St. George’s cross, also part of Barry’s original design.
Proposed Big Ben colour scheme (Parliament)
Big Ben prior to restoration work (Parliament, Mark Duffy)
The work is part of the restoration of the Elizabeth Tower at the Palace of Westminster, which is being carried out by Sir Robert McAlpine.
Work on the tower is scheduled to run until 2021, having begun in 2017, with the clock inactive throughout this four-year period.
Scaffolding erected on Big Ben (Parliament, Mark Duffy)
Parliament’s principal architect Adam Watrobski said: “We have carried out extensive research into the original decorative scheme for the clock faces and the adjacent areas. Using historic paint analysis and references including Barry’s original design watercolour, contemporary illustrations and archival photographs, we have recreated the original colour scheme. This will serve to reinforce the symbolism of the Tower in its international representation of the United Kingdom.”
Inspecting the Big Ben clock face (Parliament, Mark Duffy)
Tom Brake MP, spokesperson for the House of Commons Commission, said: “The Elizabeth Tower is a symbol of the UK’s democratic heritage and I’m thrilled to see these vital restoration works return the clock tower to its former glory. It is crucial that these conservation works now continue so we can ensure the long-term sustainability of Big Ben and safeguard it for future generations to enjoy.”
Removing the clock hands (Parliament, Mark Duffy)