It’s back, bigger and Bennier. Big Ben: it’s up there with the pyramids, Eiffel Tower and Preston Bus Station, one of the world’s most iconic buildings, instantly recognisable and seared into our collective memories. But not like this, it’s not.

After nearly four years under layers of scaffolding, the cladding has finally been peeled back to reveal the legendary clock, but it’s a completely different colour.

A bit like going back home for Christmas to find your sister’s had fillers and botox without telling the family, and now you have to get used to her having a brand new face, the familiar clock has had an astonishing makeover.

it's only this week that the full extent of the restoration

The protective coverings started to be removed at the end of December but it’s only this week that the full extent of the restoration, which cost taxpayers over £80m, has become clear.

As the black tarps gave way to the warm sandstone and highly decorative faces, Londoners got their first glimpse of the tower in years.

And it looks great! The 300ft landmark has been meticulously cleaned, including the 160 year old clock face, which has been completely renovated to reveal Pugin’s original design. And rather than the black hands and face we’re all familiar with it turns out that they were intended to be bright blue! This was only discovered after restorers removed a century-and-a-half of London grime to expose the original pigment.

Rather than the black hands and face we're all familiar with it turns out that they were intended to be bright blue!

The entire clock mechanism, weighing in at eleven-and-a-half-tonnes, was taken out of the Elizabeth Tower and transported to the Lake District where all 1,000 pieces werecarefully cleaned and repaired.

In addition the deteriorating masonry and corroding metalwork has all been given a makeover, with the whole thing looking sparkly and as though it wasn’t 162 years old!

The next step is to remove all the scaffolding before moving onto other projects. Like revamping the rest of the Palace of Westminster. The work is expected to take years and cost over £3bn, likely necessitating the complete evacuation of the Palace for the best park of a decade.

If it looks half as pretty then maybe it’ll be worth it…

Want to receive more great articles like this every day: sign up here