Time in London: Big Ben put back to GMT for first time in 5 years

London’s centrepiece clock, Big Ben, has been put back to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) for the first time since its £80 million makeover began five years ago.

Big Ben in Westminster, London has been put back to GMT for the first time in five years as the clocks went back in autumn. And it’s not the only one - roughly 2,000 other clocks in the Palace of Westminster have also been adjusted accordingly with Daylight Saving Time.

It is the first year that Big Ben has been active since its refurbishment began in 2017. The scaffolding surrounding the iconic locale was finally removed in January 2022.

Upon its removal, locals were stunned by its new look. Coated in a dazzling gold coat of paint, with the clock hands being painted a dark midnight blue.

The Speaker in the House of Commons, Lindsay Hoyle MP, was present for the historic resetting of the clock, saying it will “herald a new beginning” for Big Ben. It took roughly 24 hours to ensure the 2,000 clocks in the palace were running parallel with GMT.

On the event, Hoyle said: “While the rest of us are tucked up in our beds, our own father time Ian Westworth and the team will be clocking up eight miles changing our parliamentary clocks, including the one we love the most, the Great Clock of Westminster, better known as Big Ben.

“For the first time in five years they will be working with the clock’s completed original Victorian mechanism, so it is a significant final moment in the conservation of this magnificent timepiece.”

Big Ben is not the name of the clock tower, however - it is the name of the bell within the tower. There have been several different bells in the tower, with the first being made in Stockton-on-tees.

The clock tower was built and finalised in 1859, after a fire that destroyed much of the Palace of Westminster necessitated a redesign. It took roughly 16 years to build, with construction beginning in 1843.