After more than 150 years as Britain’s most famous timekeeper, London’s Big Ben bell fell silent Monday for four years of repair work that will keep it quiet on all but a few special occasions.
The giant bell atop Parliament’s clock tower sent a dozen deep bongs into a gray sky at noon, marking the hour as it has done almost continuously since 1859. It is not due to resume its regular duties until 2021.
Hundreds of parliamentary staff, journalists and lawmakers gathered in a courtyard under the Victorian clock tower to mark the moment, while hundreds more tourists and passers-by lined sidewalks and filled nearby Parliament Square, cellphones held aloft.
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