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McAlpine’s Big Ben restoration to complete in 2022 after covid delays

Art of Building 2021 Judge’s Choice Award winner The Value of Time, by James Retief

Sir Robert McAlpine’s work to complete conservation work on the Elizabeth Tower in London’s Palace of Westminster, is to complete in the second quarter of 2022.

The work on the £79.7m project had been due to finish later this year but has been delayed by the covid-19 pandemic.

Teams are now working at full capacity on the site after a four-month closure last year. In the summer, work installing the restored clock mechanism will begin and the clock hands, now in their original Victorian colour scheme, will be added to the clock dials. 

Further scaffolding beneath the clock dials will be removed from the Tower from the autumn of 2021 and continuing through the winter. All four clock faces will be visible on New Year’s Eve 2021, along with significant areas of the Tower, above the gantry. Early in 2022, the bells – including Big Ben itself – will be reconnected to the original Victorian clock mechanism.

The gantry, which has protected the Palace of Westminster throughout the works and supported the complex scaffolding structure, will be removed before the site is fully cleared prior to the summer of 2022.

The introduction of covid-secure measures at the site reduced productivity until November 2020 and has resulted in additional covid-related costs of up to £9m.

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