Asbestos and Bomb Damage Hinder Big Ben's Restoration


The cost of shoring up Big Ben and the tower it resides in has risen by £18.6m, thanks to the work turning out to be a little more complex than a few plasterers on Facebook thought it might be, and the discovery of asbestos, WWII bomb damage, inadequate previous repairs, lead paint, the need for specialist clock mechanism repair work and the impact of additional grime from London's death-smog period.

Ian Ailles, director general of the House of Commons, explained that a full cost for the restoration wasn't really calculable until the scaffolding was up and workers could examine the state of the tower in detail, and said: "Alongside other issues, such as the impact of often inappropriate conservation methods used by our predecessors, the corrosive levels of pollution in the atmosphere and the discovery of asbestos in unexpected places, we have only now been able to fully understand the full investment required for this project."

Hence the budget for the tower repairs alone has now risen to £79.7m, but that's mere pocket money compared with the full-decant scheme to fix up the entire seat of Parliament, currently costed in today's money at £3.5bn. [Guardian]