Feb 8, 2011

The Big Ben

The Clock Tower of the Palace of Westminster, commonly known as the Big Ben, is one of London's most famous landmarks.
The name Big Ben actually refers to the clock's hour bell, the largest of the clock's five bells, the others being used as quarter bells.

Big Ben
There were two bells cast as the clock tower's hour bell. A first, a 16 ton weighing bell was cast by John Warner and Sons in 1856. Since the Clock Tower was not yet completed, the bell was hung temporarily in the Palace Yard. The bell soon cracked so it was recast in 1858 in the White chapel Bell Foundry as a 13.5 ton bell. Unfortunately, soon after this bell was placed in the belfry in July 1859, it cracked as well. This time, instead of yet again recasting the bell, the crack was repaired and a lighter hammer was used to prevent any more cracks.

The hour bell was probably named after Benjamin Hall, the First Commissioner of Works. Some sources however claim the bell was named after Benjamin Caunt, a British heavyweight boxing champion.

The Clock
The clock was the largest in the world and still the largest in Great-Britain. The clock faces have a diameter of almost 7.5m. The hour hand is 2.7m long and the minute hand is 4.25m long.
The clock is known for its reliability, it has rarely failed during its long life span. Even after the nearby House of Commons was destroyed by bombing during World War II, the clock kept on chiming. The clock's mechanism, designed by Edmund Beckett Denison, has a remarkable accuracy.

The Tower
The tower was constructed between 1843 and 1858 as the clock tower of the Palace of Westminster, now better known as the Houses of Parliament. The clock tower - its official name is Saint Stephen's tower - is 96m high. The clock faces are 55m above ground level.

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