Houses of Parliament are falling down: Chunks of masonry have fallen from crumbling 19th century buildings 15 times in last three years, figures show – including FOUR near-misses
- EXCLUSIVE: Some of the fallen chunks of rock were the size of house bricks
- The biggest rock to fall was 10 inches across and tumbled from Victoria Tower
- Plans to renovate the Palace of Westminster in 2027 could cost up to £14billion
MPs, Lords and visitors to the Houses of Parliament are coming under attack – as chunks of the historic building keep falling off in a string of near misses.
Figures released by Parliament show there have been 15 incidents in the last three years where stonework in the historic building has come crashing to the ground.
In some of the cases the lumps have been the size of house bricks and in four of the incidents it was recorded that people were in the areas and could have been injured.
Last month, it was revealed by the Mail on Sunday that a planned refurbishment of the Houses of Parliament could set taxpayers back by a whopping £14billion.
The refurbishment is due to start in 2027 and could lead to MPs and peers being ‘decanted’ from the Palace of Westminster into ‘temporary premises for 20 years’, according to an estimate by the official body drawing up the renovation plans.
People look up at Victoria Tower after a stone fall forces police to cordon off the area in April 2018. Newly released figures show masonry has fallen from Parliament 15 times in three years – and in four of those instances people were in the vicinity and could have been injured
In April 2018, a boulder fell from a weathered stone angel (circled) on Victoria Tower
A football sized chunk of masonry broke away from a stone angel on parliament’s Victoria Tower and plummeted 230ft (70m), landing yards from Black Rod’s Garden Entrance
Authorities at the Houses of Parliament have now assessed the whole of the Grade I listed structure and drawn up a colour-coded heat map to show which areas of the building are most at risk.
Officials are concerned that somebody could be killed or seriously injured by stonework that crumbles off the historic building.
In some places the structure has been wrapped up to prevent further falls, and in others a safety platform has been built to stop items falling onto people below.
In April 2018, a football sized chunk of masonry broke away from a stone angel on parliament’s Victoria Tower and plummeted 230ft (70m) to the ground.
Meanwhile in October 2017 an MP’s car windscreen was smashed when a piece of masonry fell from a building.
The newly released dossier of near misses from the last three years includes:
Victoria Tower: Two records of lumps falling off the historic tower at the opposite end of Parliament to Big Ben. In one case the chunk was logged as being 10inches across.
Westminster Hall: The huge central hall in the Palace has seen three cases of stonework come crashing to the ground including one six-inch lump that was found to have fallen from 13ft.
Chapel: A one foot long chunk of masonry was reported to have crashed to the ground in the historic chamber.
Speaker’s Court: A small lump of stone tumbled to the ground in an area where people were nearby.
Collonade: The walkway has seen five incidents where masonry has crumbled off including items recorded as being four inches and five inches big.
There have also been incidents of debris falling off the building in St Stephen’s Porch, New Palace Yard and the corridor under the Opposition Whips’ basement.
Officials have been forced to draw up a ‘masonry fall safety risk map’, which shows the parts of the building in which people are most at danger of being struck by falling stonework
In some parts of the Grade I building, the structure has been wrapped up to prevent further falls, while in others safety platforms have been built to stop items falling onto people’s heads
The research, carried out by MyJobQuote, involved a Freedom of Information request sent to the House of Commons.
Much of the limestone stonework used on the historic building has suffered from erosion brought about by the pollution in the capital.
The refurbishment plan involves renovating the historic stonework as well as replacing some 240 miles of electrical cabling and improving the building’s sewerage system.
A UK Parliament spokesperson said: ‘We have an ongoing programme of work to maintain and conserve the Palace of Westminster in advance of the Restoration and Renewal Programme, including monitoring and repairing historic stonework where needed. The safety of MPs, staff and visitors is always a key priority.’