by Leon Watson, Kate McCann, Senior Political Correspondent and Helena Horton from The Telegraph, August 21, 2017
Big Ben's bongs have been silenced as part of a controversial renovation plan that will stop it ringing out for up to four years.
Hundreds of MPs and parliamentary workers gathered to listen as the Great Bell chimed noon before being halted to allow work to begin
One MP appeared to be moved to tears by the occasion.
Labour MP Stephen Pound told The Telegraph: "It is a frightening world ...this [Big Ben] represents stability and continuity.
"It is a great sadness and very frustrating, it shows a poverty of imagination because nobody has actually worked out how in the 21st Century we can emulate David Davis's Brexit plan and have our cake and eat it.
Mr Pound, who was joined in the courtyard of Parliament by MPs including Labour's Jess Philips, Rupa Huq and Mary Glindon as well as Tory Peter Bone, said he was "bloody amazed" by the turnout of people who gathered to hear the final bongs. He added that the bell is unlikely to start ringing again in four years time and called for "a recording or something that can be played that doesn't damage the ears of the workforce but allows that bong to ring out across the city. "It means a lot to me, in many ways we are in danger of losing something we don't realise in value at the moment and it'll be too late at 12 today."
Andrea Jenkyns was devastated she couldn't be there, tweeting: "I will miss this iconic bong! Sad I couldn't be there to witness this but glad my team sent me the video."Wiping away a tear the MP said his sadness was not "synthetic", adding that it was "real".
Some MPs were more cynical about the occasion. Jess Phillips tweeted: "I'm in parliament today, I strongly suspect I'll see no bell mourning".
Prime Minister Theresa May was not in the crowd, saying she was working in her constituency. However, she appeared to disapprove of the silencing of the bell.
Luke Pollard was not excited by the occasion, tweeting: "The Big Ben dongs will return. Wish those MPs who are causing such a fuss were equally vocal about food banks, the GP crisis and harsh cuts".
Parliament bowed to pressure last week when it announced it would review the plans, which will silence the bell for the longest period in its 157-year history, after Prime Minister Theresa May joined an MPs' outcry against the move.
Under health and safety rules, the 13-ton bell was taken out of action to protect the hearing of construction workers on site.
But after coming under intense pressure, officials have announced that the plan for Big Ben to remain silent until 2021 may undergo a rethink.
For whom will the bell stop tolling?
It is an official Parliamentary body, the Lords and the Commons Commissions, that has ordered the bongs to be silenced.
The commissions says while extensive repairs are carried out on Westminster, workers' hearing would be put at "serious risk" if the bell continued chiming.
They warned that those using the 100-metre-high scaffolding around the tower could also be startled by the 118-decibel bongs.
The renovation includes the installation of a lift and repairs to the clock's hands, mechanism and pendulum. It was expected to cost £29 million but MPs have raised concerns that the cost could soar to £60 million.
Steve Jaggs, keeper of the Great Clock, said: "This essential programme of works will safeguard the clock on a long-term basis, as well as protecting and preserving its home, the Elizabeth Tower.
"Members of the public are welcome to mark this important moment by gathering in Parliament Square to hear Big Ben's final bongs until they return in 2021."
Did it get a ringing endorsement?
No. It did not.
The Commission rubber-stamped the building work after it was approved by three separate parliamentary bodies in the autumn of 2015. But, crucially, MPs were not told that the repair work meant shutting down Big Ben for four years.
It will be the longest period Big Ben has been silenced in its 157-year history and will begin after noon on Monday August 21.
The 13.7-tonne Great Bell was last stopped for maintenance in 2007 and before that was halted for two years in 1983 for refurbishment, but has been stopped on a number of other occasions since it first sounded in 1859.
Sounds like they dropped a clanger.
Yes, it does.
The backlash was immediate. Theresa May, the Prime Minister, publicly expressed her dismay at the plans while Brexit Secretary David Davis said stopping the chimes was "mad".
He dismissed health and safety concerns linked to the clock tower's restoration and urged the estate's authorities to "just get on with it".
The move was also labelled "entirely bonkers" by Conservative MP James Gray who sat on the administration committee which first approved the work.
Liberal Democrat Tom Brake contacted Ian Ailles, House of Commons director general, calling for the review of the plans to be carried out.
Who were the ringleaders?
As well as the above, John Glen, a Minister at the Department for Culture, joined a growing chorus of fellow MPs by insisting it was wrong that the famous bongs of Big Ben would not be heard for the next four years.
Party colleagues Jacob Rees-Mogg, Peter Bone and Andrew Bridgen also added their voices to the campaign to keep Big Ben bonging.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, meanwhile, struck a different chord.
He said silencing the bell was "not a national disaster or catastrophe".
How did that chime with the authorities?
Following the backlash, they put out a fresh statement insisting workers on the 100 metre high scaffolding around the tower could also be startled by the 118 decibel bongs.
And they dismissed suggestions the chimes could be restored during the hours that work is not being carried out as the process takes about half a day to complete.
The statement said: "It would not be practical or a good use of public money to start and stop the bells each day. In addition, as we cannot fully predict the times that staff will be working on this project, it would be impossible to reconnect the bells on a regular basis."
Will there be an a-peal?
As soon as the announcement was made Liberal Democrat Tom Brake contacted Ian Ailles, House of Commons director general, calling for the review of the plans to be carried out.
Mrs May has also urged Speaker John Bercow to find a way to ensure Big Ben continues to ring out during the renovation of the Elizabeth Tower.
And after coming under intense pressure, officials eventually announced that the plan for Big Ben to remain silent until 2021 is now under review.
A Commons spokesperson said: "When Parliament returns, in light of concerns expressed by a number of MPs, the House of Commons Commission will consider the length of time that the bells will fall silent.
"Of course, any discussion will focus on undertaking the work efficiently, protecting the health and safety of those involved, and seeking to ensure resumption of normal service as soon as is practicable given those requirements.
"The bells will cease to ring, as planned, following the chimes at noon on Monday 21 August."
So, we will see.
This article was written by Leon Watson, Kate McCann, Senior Political Correspondent and Helena Horton from The Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].