The Latest: Big Ben’s bell goes silent for years of repairs

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LONDON (AP) — The Latest on Big Ben's bell going silent (all times local):

12 p.m.

Britain's Big Ben has bonged the hour for the last time ahead of almost four years of repair work.

The giant bell atop Parliament's clock tower rang out 12 times at noon, as parliamentary staff, lawmakers and passersby paused to listen.

The sound faded away to start what is scheduled to be the bell's longest period of silence since it first rang out in 1859.

It is not due to resume regular timekeeping until 2021, though it will sound on special occasions such as New Year's Eve.

The break will allow workers to carry out much-needed maintenance to the Victorian clock and clock tower. But some lawmakers have criticized the lengthy silence, calling Big Ben an important symbol of British democracy. They want the time scale for repairs tightened.

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7:15 a.m.

The British Parliament's Big Ben bell is due to sound the hour for the last time before it is silenced for repair work scheduled to last until 2021.

After 12 deep bongs at noon Monday, the bell will begin its longest period of silence since it first sounded in 1859.

The break will allow workers to carry out much-needed maintenance to the Victorian clock and clock tower, but will deprive Londoners and tourists of one of the city's iconic sounds.

Some lawmakers have criticized the lengthy silence, calling Big Ben an important symbol of British democracy. They want the time scale for repairs tightened.

Big Ben is not due to resume regular timekeeping until 2021, though it will be heard on special occasions such as New Year's Eve.