Alexandra Meakin is a doctoral student at the University of Sheffield, where her research is on the restoration and renewal of the Palace of Westminster. She is a Research Associate on the Designing for Democracy project, led by the Sir Bernard Crick Centre for the Public Understanding of Politics, an ESRC Knowledge Exchange Hub.
As the House of Commons returns this week from the summer recess, MPs will be adjusting to a temporary silence from the chimes of Big Ben. The repairs to the Elizabeth Tower, which contains the Great Bell, have led some politicians and parts of the media to protest that “the very heartbeat of our democracy is falling silent”. The House of Commons Commission is due to meet this month to reconsider the programme of work to address urgent problems with the clock mechanism and the structure of the tower. But while attention has been focused on Big Ben, an anniversary this week serves as a pressing reminder about the worrying state of the rest of the Palace of Westminster.