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Big Ben bongs fall silent to allow for four years of major restoration work

A large crowd applauded in Parliament Square as the regular bongs sounded at 12pm on Monday (August 21) for the last time in four years

Big Ben's bongs echoed across Westminster for the last time on Monday (August 21) before being silenced for four years for restoration work on the clock.

A large crowd, which included MPs and parliamentary workers, gathered at the clock to hear its last midday bongs before work on the Elizabeth Tower begins.

The controversial work on the tower will conclude in 2021, but the bongs are still to ring during key events, such as New Year's Eve celebrations.

This will be the historic clock's first prolonged silence for 157 years.

During the work, the “drab” colour scheme on the clock is to be changed to give it a more “vibrant look”, officials have said.

Conservation architect Adam Watrobski said the clock was much more colourful when it was built, with lots of blue and red used.

Paint analysis will be carried out to ensure a match with the original colours on the gilt-edged clock faces, which are currently topped with only a splash of green.

Big Ben's bongs have rung for the last time before four years of renovation work(Image: Getty Images)

Speaking on the roof of Parliament overlooking Elizabeth Tower, Mr Watrobski said: "We are going to look at the colour scheme around the clock faces.

“The existing colour scheme is rather drab. It's not what was originally intended and we are working on that at the moment.

"It was far more colourful - it had a lot more blue and red in it.

“It will be a lot more vibrant than it is now."

On top of the colourful renovation work, a brick enclosure in the tower is to be replaced with glass to allow Big Ben to be viewed by people walking up the staircase.

Onlookers gathered to hear Big Bong's last chimes on Monday (August 21)(Image: PA)

Mr Watrobski added: "There's a brick enclosure that was put in in the 1950s at the top of staircase. That was never intended.

“It was always the intention that you would be able to go up the stairs and see the bell straightaway at the top of the stairs, so we are going to replace that with a glass enclosure.”

During the four years of construction, the roof of the tower will be stripped off and restored, the bell frame repaired, leaks into the clock room fixed and a lift installed.

The large crowd applauded as the bongs rang for the last time in four years(Image: Getty Images)

Each of the clock faces, which contains around 312 pieces of glass, will be re-glazed and crumbling stone work maintained.

The Ayrton Light, which shines out when the Commons and Lords are sitting, will be "off for some time" but the timescale will not be finalised until later this year.

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