Britain's Big Ben to bong again but not on time

London (AFP) –


Big Ben, the bell inside London's iconic clock tower which has been silent since August, will chime again on key upcoming dates but the timing might be a bit off kilter, Britain's parliament said on Wednesday.

The bell, housed in the Elizabeth Tower, has been off since a four-year renovation of the building began.

It will be reconnected to sound for Armistice Day, on November 11, and Remembrance Sunday the following day, and throughout the Christmas holiday season.

"It has always been the intention throughout the Elizabeth Tower conservation works for Big Ben to ring out for important national events, and whenever we safely can without disruption to the refurbishment project," a statement said.

The bell in the famous 315-foot (96-metre) tower which looms over Britain's Houses of Parliament in Westminster will be reconnected in advance of the occasions.

It will start chiming on the hour from 9am on November 9 until 1pm on November 12, and from 9am on December 23 until 1pm on January 1, 2018.

But parliamentary authorities said they expected "slight inaccuracies" after an 11-week break.

The structure is undergoing much-needed renovations, which started on August 21 and could end up costing as much as £61 million ($80 million, ?68 million).

The work is repairing the clock faces and mechanism, cracks in the tower's masonry and corrosion in the roof, as well as restoring the edging around the clock faces to its original 19th-century colour.

A lift will also be installed as an alternative to the steps up the tower, and the lights illuminating the clock will be replaced by low-energy LEDs.

Completed in neo-Gothic style in 1856 by parliament architect Augustus Pugin, the tower has suffered from considerable degradation over time, and now even leans 46 centimetres (18 inches) off the vertical.

However, silencing Big Ben -- whose chimes feature on British television and radio news bulletins -- has proved contentious, sparking protests including from Prime Minister Theresa May.