Big Ben is one of the most famous of all London landmarks. Although the term is colloquially used to refer to the area housing both the Houses of Parliament and the Elizabeth Tower, the name "Big Ben" only refers to the bell within the clock tower, and not the clock tower itself. Big Ben was first constructed in 1844. However, the bell inside the tower cracked due to its massive weight. A new bell was fitted in 1858, though it cracked yet again in 1859. However, the bell was modified to include a lighter hammer (the apparatus that strikes the bell to produce noise) in 1859. This is the same bell that hangs in the tower to date.
The tower has a clock with four faces and illuminates at night. The bell of the clock weighs an astonishing 13 tons.
Origin Of The Name Big Ben
It is not clear on the origin of the name Big Ben; however, there are two theories. One theory links it to Sir Benjamin Hall, who was the first commissioner of works, and second links to Benjamin Caunt, who was a champion boxer at that time. The two men, Sir Hall and Caunt, were big men. Big Ben was a common phrase used at the time to refer to the heaviest person in a given group.
Where Is Big Ben located?
Big Ben is located on the northern end of the Palace of Westminster in Central London. A generic location by film-makers or television programs show images of the tower from Whitehall, with the tower in the background, and this is often pictured with double-decked buses on the foreground.
Facts About Big Ben
The designer of the Elizabeth Tower was Augustus Pugin using neo-gothic style and reaches 315 feet tall, and to get to the belfry, the climb is 334 steps. The tower has a square base measuring 39 feet. The dials of the clock each measure 23 feet in diameter and the minute hand is about 14 feet and weighs about 220 pounds. Each clock dial is said to have 312 pieces of glass. The numbers on the clock are 23inches long, which makes them visible from far. During Parliament sessions, the clock faces are illuminated with a unique light. The 150th anniversary of the tower was celebrated on May 31, 2009.
There is the on-going renovation of the Elizabeth Tower, which is expected to stop in three years. The works started in August 2017. The objective of the ongoing renovation is to make upgrades to the facilities and to ensure it is in functional condition to serve future generations. Besides, a lift is to be fitted and the broken glasses on the clock faces of each dial replaced. The prior renovation of the Big Ben dates back to 1983-85. The clock is expected to strike again in 2021. The renovation cost is estimated at £61 million. The bells are also to remain silent; however, it will work on the New Year’s Eve and Remembrance Day.
Big Ben: Role In The Film Industry
Big Ben is considered the most iconic location for filmmaking in London. It remains one of the most attractive sites in London and plays a significant role in tourism and film industries. It is a symbol of parliamentary democracy in the UK. Since the 1970s, it has been part of Grade I listed buildings and was listed by UNESCO in 1987 as a World Heritage Site.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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