Big Ben must be repaired - level 3
London's Big Ben has been bonging for 156 years, but it could all stop with a bang if urgent repairs aren't carried out. The Great Clock, one of London's most famous tourist attractions, needs drastic work to stop it falling silent. Politicians say the repairs could cost taxpayers up to 40 million pounds and would shut Big Ben down for up to 4 months. But many say it'll all be worth it.
"Big Ben and the Elizabeth Tower, which it's on top of, is an iconic image of the UK. It's arguably the most famous iconic image of the UK, one of the most famous images anywhere in the world. It's part of the image of the country. I don't think I know many developing-world countries that would allow an iconic status symbol on that scale to fall into disrepair.”
The cross-party Commons Finance Committee's report says Big Ben has "chronic problems" with the bearings behind the hands and pendulum. There is also severe metal erosion, cracks in the roof and other structural defects.
Upgrades were also needed to bring the building in line with health and safety regulations.
The costs include plans to build a visitor centre at the bottom of the tower, and a lift to take observers to the top. It’s been 31 years since its last overhaul. In 1976, repairs saw the clock stopped for 26 days over nine months.
Difficult words: bong (to make a deep sound), with a bang (loud; also means quickly), urgent (needing to be done immediately), arguably (there are good reasons why), disrepair (in bad condition), bearing (a part of a machine which rotates), hand (a long thin piece which points at the numbers on a clock), pendulum (a stick which moves from side to side to control the working of a clock), observer (somebody who observes – watches something), overhaul (repairs).
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