After more than a year of restoration the clock face and hands at the top of the Elizabeth Tower have been revealed in their original dazzling blue.
The north face of the Elizabeth Tower clock is the first to be unveiled in its original shade of blue, replacing the more familiar black colour scheme.
Part of the clock tower of the Palace of Westminster has been revealed in a new deep Prussian blue from its Victorian origins.
The clock dials and face were four different shades of blue until 1930 when it was painted black.
The north face was the first of the four famous clock faces to be seen in the original colour scheme from when it was built in 1859 by Sir Charles Barry.
The colour was employed by architect Charles Barry, who rebuilt the Palace of Westminster after it was destroyed by fire in 1834.
A workman inspects the Elizabeth Tower clock face as it is revealed in its new Prussian Blue colour replacing the familiar black paint
Paint it black: The Elizabeth Tower clock face was painted it more modern black in the 1930’s
These works form part of a Parliamentary £61m restoration project which will also see the St George’s shields at top of the clock face painted red and white for the first time since the 1930’s
Parliament’s giant clock tower will also have the white and red emblem of St George featured prominently after the £61 million major renovation programme is finished.
The move was announced just hours before the England team are due to take on Croatia in the semi final of the World Cup last summer.
The 13.7 tonne bell known as Big Ben fell silent in August 2017 and is expected to be unveiled by 2021.
It has long been assumed that the metalwork on the four faces was black, but thanks to painstaking research, the hands and dials will become a deep Prussian blue when they go back on view.
Scientists at Lincoln University made the discovery after analysing 128 samples of paint from the dial as part of the renovation.
Researcher Rhiannon Clarricoates said in December: ‘There have been four successive schemes of it being blue. It was blue up until the 1930s.’
About time: the team prise apart the hands of Big Ben as the operation remove the hands begin
Since then, however, the effects of weathering and pollution have meant that decorators assumed the metalwork was black.
The tower has been covered in 96,000 pieces of scaffolding and, for the first time since it was designed by Augustus Pugin in 1859, the 11½-ton clock has been dismantled.
Easy does it: The minute hand is pulled away carefully from the face as the team lower it down
Tomorrow night the bells will ring in the New Year once again – although this year and next, they will be powered by an electric motor rather than by the original mechanism.
Palace of Westminster clockmakers Paul Roberson, Huw Smith and Ian Westworth spent eight days removing the 9ft hour hands and 14ft minute hands and lowering them 25 floors to the ground.
They then removed the huge clock mechanism and dismantled every cog.
Going down: Covered in blue padding for protection the hand is carefully lifted down 25 floors
All the metalwork has been transported to Sheffield-based Shepley Engineers for restoration or replacement.
They are stripping down the 3,222 bronze, copper and brass components, either by sandblasting or with chemicals, before repairing or replacing them.
Reyntiens Glass Studio will be replacing the 324 individual pieces of glass in the clock faces.
Safe and sound: The minute hand is packed away into a wooden box before it is transported away