Wednesday, January 25, 2012


London’s Big Ben leaning, parliament sinking

  • Wednesday, January 25, 2012
  • Arunthathi Kanagaratnam
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  • UK: The landmark clock tower containing Big Ben at Britain's Palace of Westminster, is tilting, while media reports Monday said the mother of all parliaments was slipping into the River Thames, raising fears over its future. The House of Commons commission, which is responsible for the upkeep of the 19th century neo-Gothic parliamentary estate popular with tourist photographs, was due to meet Monday.

    Media reports said it would discuss a surveyor's report which could recommend lawmakers move out for repairs costing up to one billion pounds, while the Daily Telegraph said another proposal might be to sell to Russian or Chinese developers for about 500 million pounds ($779.7 million). But a commission spokesman said there was no surveyor's report, and members were only meeting to discuss setting up a group to look at general long-term renovation of the grade 1-listed building designed by Charles Barry and Augustus Welby Pugin.

    “I think there's been twos and twos added together and come up with we are selling to the Russians, but they won't be talking about anything like that,” the spokesman said.

    The 96-metre tall clock tower, which houses the bell originally nicknamed Big Ben, leans about 46 cm to the left of its peak. A construction expert who worked on the leaning tower of Pisa in Italy and a multi-storey carpark under the houses of parliament in central London, said there was nothing to worry about, and it would take 10,000 years to reach an angle of concern.

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