ITV Calendar goes behind the scenes to discover how Yorkshire has helped to shape Big Ben's future

  • Watch as Harry Horton goes behind the clock face of Big Ben.

Big Ben has stood silent and caged in scaffolding for more than four years as part of a huge renovation project.

The famous bell will chime once again in early 2022, but ahead of its return, ITV Calendar has been behind the exterior to reveal how the most extensive repairs in decades have been taking place.

The four clock faces have been repainted, rust removed from the roof and carvings repaired - all with a big help from Yorkshire.

Cadeby Quarry near Doncaster

Almost two hundred miles north of Big Ben is Cadeby Quarry near Doncaster. The original limestone used to build the Elizabeth tower was sourced a few miles from here and this quarry provides a close aesthetic match. The hope is this new stone will be more durable than the original.

Ian Kennedy, Director of Blockstone, explains:

Above the clock face, at the very top of the Elizabeth Tower is the Ayrton Light, which shines whenever either the Lords or the Commons sits after dark.

For its restoration, the entire structure was dismantled and brought to a factory in Sheffield. As well as the Ayrton light, the roof, guttering and even clock hands were brought to Sheffield to be given a new lease of life.

Credit: PA Images

The project has been a big source of pride for the Shepley Engineers workers: "We had the clock hands here. They come in their own boxes, protective wrap. We touched upon them, not many can say that!"

"I mean Yorkshire engineering's the best. My great grandad worked on mallard and flying scotsman. Engineering's in the blood round here and to be able to do that it was amazing, something to be proud of and something I'm definitely going to show my grandchild when he's a bit older."

Parts of the clock were brought to Shepley Engineers in Sheffield

There's a part of Yorkshire almost everywhere along the restoration journey; from iron that's been cast in Halifax, to stone from a quarry in Doncaster. Even the original design of the clock itself has links to Yorkshire.

Parliament historian, Dr Mark Collins, explains:

He adds: "He was a brilliant lawyer but he also understood the mechanics of clockmaking so he helped dent to make the most accurate public clock in the world."

From its conception and construction in the 1800s, to its 21st century restoration, Yorkshire's minds, manufacturing and materials have played a vital role in ensuring Big Ben remains the world's most famous clock tower.

Credit: PA Images