Preview: Big Ben: Restoring the World’s Most Famous Clock

The clock tower is getting ready for a reappearance certain to wow onlookers. Photo: Channel4

It’s the fifth and final year of the biggest, most expensive restoration of Big Ben’s history. Anna Keay, an architectural historian, enjoys exclusive access to the clock tower and sees everything going on behind the scaffolding.

The aim of the enormous project is to return Big Ben to its gothic glory – the clock mechanism, which was ticking almost continuously for 161 years, was removed to make way. 700 pieces of damaged stonework have been replaced with Cadeby limestone and a bright-eye catching coat of paint applied.

Anna meets some of the country’s best craftspeople as they toil away to save Big Ben from environmental damages. Engineer Clare Hartley Marjoram is tasked with adding a modern feature to the tower – a brand new lift.

Glassmaker John Reyntiens must get inventive when faced with cutting 90-kilo sheets for the Ayrton light, which sits at the top of the tower. Trevor Marrs of Shepley Engineers restores more than 3000 elements of damaged metalwork during the covid-19 pandemic.

Restoring the World’s Most Famous Clock – Sunday at 7pm on Channel 4