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"Big Ben falling silent is a significant milestone in this crucial conservation project", Steve Jaggs, whose official title is "Keeper of the Great Clock", said in a parliament statement last week.

Big Ben's bongs have been heard across London for the last 157 years, but there have been periods of silence before, notably during World War II and the funerals of former prime ministers Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher.

Big Ben's last bong will be at 12 noon after which they will be turned off for the maintenance work.

Renovation works will take place on Parliament's bell, clock and tower.

It will be disconnected and will sound more the hours as it had done since 158 years nearly without interruption, accompanied by a carillon of four bells smaller for the quarters of an hour.

Big Ben has been silenced by malfunction and for repairs before, most recently in 2007, but this stretch is by far the longest.

The famous clock's bell has been stopped over health and safety concerns, silencing an emblem of continuity as Britain grapples with Brexit negotiations.

Speeding up working on the Elizabeth Tower and the clock and bell it houses could be more expensive but if the work is completed in half the time everyone benefits, according to Sir David Amess.

A spokeswoman said the question of whether the four-year period could be shortened was "a decision for the House of Commons Commission".

The largest bell in the Great Clock of Westminster is called the Great Bell but is better known as Big Ben and is the main bell.

He said: 'Why shouldn't there be a round the clock effort to get it done? "I'm sure they could figure out a way to make a bell ring and not damage the hearing of the workers".

The huge clock, which has run nearly uninterrupted since 1859, will be stopped for several months so that Parliament's clockmakers can work on the spring that holds the 13ft (4m) pendulum and remove the hands from each of the four faces.

United Kingdom lawmakers and their staff gathered to listen as the Great Bell - the official name for Big Ben - struck noon, clapping after the last chime.

Like a form of punishment ripped from the pages of a fairy tale, Britain is imposing four years of silence on an immortal giant.

Ealing North MP Stephen Pound, a critic of the plan, has said there will be a small group of MPs "standing there with bowed heads in the courtyard" as Big Ben chimes at midday on 21 August.

He listed a few of the previous times Big Ben had fallen silent in the past.

The bell will still ring for special occasions, like New Years' Eve and Remembrance Sunday, which falls on the second Sunday in November.