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Monday, 27 August 2012

Big Ben

Big Ben, the bell in the Palace of Westminster's clock tower in London, was cast on April 10, 1858 by Whitechapel Bell Foundry.after the original bell had cracked during testing.

The second "Big Ben" (centre) and the Quarter Bells from The Illustrated News of the World, 4 December 1858

The Whitechapel Bell Foundry company was established in 1570 making it, Britain's oldest manufacturing company - it also casted Philadelphia's Liberty Bell.

The clock tower at the Houses of Parliament, which houses Big Ben, started keeping time on May 31, 1859. Big Ben rang for the first time on July 11, 1859.

The 30,300 lb (13.76 tonne) bell is known as ‘Big Ben’ after Benjamin Hall, First Commissioner of Works at the time.

For two years during World War I, the bells were silenced and the clock face darkened at night to prevent attack by German Zeppelins.

Big Ben has been heard striking the hour before news bulletins on the BBC since December 31, 1923.

Although the bells continued to ring, the clock faces were darkened at night through World War II to prevent guiding Blitz pilots.

In 1979 starlings were in such large numbers in London that they stopped Big Ben by landing on the hands.

On April 1, 1980, the BBC reported that Big Ben was getting a digital display. It was of course an April fool.

By © User:Colin / Wikimedia Commons

In 2008 a survey of 2,000 people found that the tower was the most popular landmark in the United Kingdom.

The Big Ben name is often used to mean the tower as well. It is the third-tallest free-standing clock tower.

The Clock Tower was renamed the Elizabeth Tower in a tribute to Queen Elizabeth in her 2012 Diamond Jubilee Year.

By Diliff - Own work,Wikipedia Commons

Each of the four clock faces of Big Ben are 23 feet in diameter and are made up of 312 panes of glass.

Each of the copper sheet minute hands on Big Ben’s clock faces weigh 222lb (100kg). The end of the 13 foot (4.2m) long minute hands travel 120 miles (190 km) every year

Putting Big Ben’s hands forwards or back in spring or autumn, plus a maintenance check, takes 16 hours.

Pennies are used to keep Big Ben accurate if its losing time. Putting a coin on its pendulum speeds it by two-fifths of a second a day.

Those wishing to go up Big Ben must climb the 334 spiral steps to the top — there is no lift. It is only open to UK residents, who have to apply to their MP.

The 15-minute chimes on Big Ben have lyrics that are based on Psalm 37:23-24 : "All through this hour. Lord be my guide. And by Thy power. No foot shall slide."

The company which maintains Big Ben has staff on 24-hour call should something go wrong.

If Big Ben was built today, it would cost around $222,278.

Sources Wikipedia

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