A CUMBRIAN company has told of the efforts put into restoring Big Ben.

The Cumbria Clock Company, working with Parliament’s clock mechanics, is reinstalling the Great Clock at Big Ben after taking it away from Westminster and painstakingly cleaning, repairing and restoring more than 1,000 components at its workshop in the village of Dacre, near Penrith.

During the four-year project, the company made scores of photos, notes and drawings to help with the complex task of putting the Victorian masterpiece back together, as neither the designer Edmund Beckett Denison nor installer Edward John Dent kept detailed records of how it was constructed.

As a result the company, which specialises in historic turret clocks, has produced the first user manual and set of engineering diagrams of the mechanism for the benefit of future clock keepers.

Keith Scobie-Youngs, the company’s director and co-founder, said: “It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to work on the best-known clock in the world.

“We transplanted the heart of the UK up to Cumbria.

"We were able to assemble the time side, the heart-beat, and put that on test in our workshop, so for two years we had that heartbeat ticking away in our test room, which was incredibly satisfying.

"It became part of the family and its departure has been like a child leaving home.

“The beauty of a clock like this is that you as a clockmaker become part of its history and want to leave it in a better place than you found it, so the next clockmaker can appreciate it.

"We were privileged to become part of the story of Big Ben; everyone at the company feels that attachment to the story.”

The mechanism was removed to protect it from the dust and debris created by the restoration works on the Elizabeth Tower, however the company’s 22-strong team has also used modern conservation techniques to ensure the clock upholds its creator’s original aim to produce ‘the most accurate public clock in the world’.

Keith added: “It’s a precision instrument that we expect to keep within one second of the first blow of every hour - that’s a big ask for a mechanical movement made and installed in 1859.

"I think Edward John Dent would be pleased as punch that the clock that he made is still doing the job that he designed it to do 160 years later.

“I’ve been a clock maker for 40 years and I’ve restored hundreds of turret clocks in churches, cathedrals and palaces but the Great Clock of Westminster means so much throughout the world, there’s a huge expectation and pressure in doing the work – but it’s been a massive privilege for me and all my staff from the office workers and apprentices to the horologists and conservators.”