Big Ben to be replaced by Rochdale bongs

The traditional Big Ben bongs on BBC Radio 4 will be replaced by bells from Rochdale town hall on Christmas Eve

Chimes from the Greater Manchester town will herald the 18:00 GMT news bulletin as a “special festive replacement”.

BBC Radio 4 normally broadcasts Big Ben live but has been broadcasting recordings since August last year when the bells fell silent for repair works.

Rochdale Borough Council leader Allen Brett said he was “proud” the town’s gongs “will ring out over the land”.

The Labour councillor said broadcasting a recording of the town hall’s bells was a “huge boost” for the area.

“Rochdale town hall is one of the country’s most iconic buildings and we are proud its famous gongs will ring out across the land over the festive period.

“Well done to the BBC for backing our campaign and for striking a chord with public opinion.”

He added: “Let the bells ring out for Christmas.”

BBC Radio 4 said Rochdale will be the only bells – other than Big Ben – used at the start of its news bulletins over the festive period.

It added it was a “special festive replacement”.

Gwyneth Williams, controller of BBC Radio 4, said it was “delighted” to have the chimes of Rochdale bells ringing out for everyone across the UK to hear.

Big Ben’s famous chimes are to remain silent until 2021 for essential repair works to the clock and surrounding Palace of Westminster’s Elizabeth Tower, apart from special occasions.

Prior to the start of work, Big Ben had sounded on the hour for 157 years.

The capital’s iconic bongs are only being used for national occasions and have been largely silent for more than a year.

Since the four-year renovation project began, the broadcaster has used a recording of Big Ben’s chimes for the 6pm and midnight news.

The Greater Manchester bells were selected in part because it uses the same ‘Westminster chime’ as Big Ben.

Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry suggested the town hall be used earlier this year.

Mr Berry says he applauds the decision of the broadcast to ‘move from its pre-recorded London centrism’ and said that the northern town’s bells were just as worthy as the capital’s.

TNT News

Photo Credit: Tim Green

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