Big Ben is set to be silenced today, although it doesn’t need to be that way. Martin Audio has offered to continue the traditional bongs during the refurbishment, using 21st Century technology to replace the old bells.
Essential repair works on Big Ben is set to take four years, leaving London without any bongs for the longest period in the entire 157-year history of the iconic landmark. Some UK residents have been disappointed by the silencing, with the UK’s prime minister, Theresa May, also voicing her concern.
Amongst the suggestions among some who would like to continue hearing the bongs was for the government to install loudspeakers to continue the tradition. In that vein, Martin Audio has proposed such a solution to The Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt Hon John Bercow MP.
In a letter to Bercow, Martin Audio’s managing director, Dom Harter, notes:
“Dear Mr Speaker,
My name is Dominic Harter and I am the Managing Director of a UK loudspeaker manufacturer and international exporter – Martin Audio.
We have been listening to the ongoing debate around the silencing of Big Ben with some interest, and believe we have an innovative solution that can enable the bell sounds to emanate external to Big Ben while at the same time offering “rear rejection” so as to provide protection for the workers during refurbishments.
Martin Audio manufactures professional loudspeakers for the entertainment industry. This includes our premium large format MLA system which our customers and partners use to provide the sound for large format concerts and festivals around the world.
One of the features of MLA is that we are able to steer sound accurately; in addition to this we are able to generate very high sound pressure levels in front of the loudspeakers whilst maintaining a dramatic reduction in sound behind them. This is unique to Martin Audio.
Therefore, theoretically, we could replace the bell over the 4-year period with four hangs/stacks of our MLA units and generate the same kind of level and output as Big Ben by playing a recording which could be fired off on the hour by a computer all this whilst maintaining safe working levels around the clock tower.”
Today (August 21) is the day Big Ben is to be silenced, leaving little time for any replacement to be sourced and installed. The government does seem open to ensuring the continuation of Big Ben’s bongs, however. With some in the Conservative party hoping to have Big Ben chime on the day the United Kingdom leaves the European Union.
One such Tory MP, and one widely tipped to replace Theresa May as leader should she step down, is Jacob Rees-Mogg, who told the Daily Mail: “I think Big Ben ought to be kept striking as much as possible during the repairs as long as it doesn’t deafen the work force. It would be symbolically uplifting for it to sound out our departure from the EU as a literally ringing endorsement of democracy.”
It’s clear that Martin Audio has identified a solution, although the company is still awaiting a reply.