End of British Summer Time means hectic race to change clocks in Britain's houses of parliament


  • World
  • Sunday, 25 Oct 2020

LONDON, Oct.24 (Xinhua) -- A three-man team with time on their hands on Saturday started a massive task of altering London's famous Big Ben clocks along with more than 2,000 other timepieces around Britain's houses of parliament.

The end of British Summer Time (BST) at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday means every clock in the country will have to be adjusted back by one hour when time reverts to GMT.

This year, the three specialist clock mechanics are based in the Palace of Westminster on Oct. 24-25, working on clocks across the palace and on the Great Clock of the Elizabeth Tower.

"The team will be working in a COVID-19-secure bubble to ensure both the safety of the staff involved and to maintain parliament's status as a secure workplace," said a spokesperson for the British parliament.

The process involves careful precision and split-second timing to ensure the clock on the Big Ben tower remains accurate. An electric motor was installed in 2017 to drive the hands on the clock dial while the original clock mechanism undergoes essential conservation work as part of a multi-million dollar facelift for the tower.

At 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, the British parliament's clock mechanics will disengage the electric motor driving the hands, set the hands to the new time and then re-engage the motor, ensuring the hands are rotating to the correct time again.

"Changing the time on the Elizabeth Tower clock face (Big Ben) isn't the only job for parliament's clock mechanics this weekend," the parliament spokesperson said. "There are over 2,000 other clocks throughout the Palace of Westminster and across the Parliamentary Estate that will also need to be adjusted to take account of the time change this fall."

"Due to the COVID-secure measures in place, the time needed to change the clocks will take slightly longer than usual," the spokesperson added.

It will mean some clocks outside the Palace of Westminster, but sited on other buildings on the Parliamentary Estate in London, are being changed to GMT on Monday.

The end of British Summer Time comes at a time when countries such as Britain, China, Russia and the United States, are racing against time to develop coronavirus vaccines in order to bring life back to normal.

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