Big Ben, the great bell on the clock tower of Westminster Palace, has been smoothly keeping the time of London for more than 150 years. It is probably the most iconic object in all of London. Most tourists are not well aware of key Big Ben Facts. So, here I present some of the top Big Ben Facts that you should know:
1. Big Ben is actually the nick name of the bell inside the clock tower at the north end of the palace of Westminster, the house of the parliament of the United Kingdom. But the name “Big Ben” is commonly used to mention the bell, the clock and the entire clock tower. The official name of the clock tower is Elizabeth tower.
2. Big Ben has multiple birthdays. April 10, 1958 marks the completion of the tower. May 31, 1859 was the first working day of its clock and July 11, 1859 was the day that the people of London heard its first chime.
3. The Elizabeth tower is 316 feet high with 11 floors and does not have any lift or elevator inside. So you need to climb a 334 limestone stairs to reach the top. However it is not regularly open to the visitors.
4. The room which holds the bell is called the Belfry and is built with an iron frame to support the weight. One of the most notable Big Ben facts is that it took 13 years to build the entire clock tower. There are several other small rooms inside the tower including a small prison cell.
5. The great bell or Big Ben is placed at the top of the tower just above the clocks. The bell weighs 13.5 tons. It is 7 feet and 6 inch high 9 feet wide and nearly 9 inch thick.
6. The clock is a four faced chiming clock and the largest one of its kind in the world. Each one of these clock faces are 23 feet in diameter and contain 312 separate pieces of beautifully stained pot opal glass.
7. The hour hand of the clock is 9 feet long and weighs 300 kg. And the minute hand is 14 feet long and weighs 100kg. One of the most useful Big Ben facts is that every day the minute hand travels a distance of approximate 118 miles.
8. The length Pendulum that swings to keep the time is 4.4 meters and it weighs 310kg and it beats or swings every 2 seconds. The weight of the Pendulum bob is 203 kg.
9. The clock on the tower is famous for its reliability. Keeping it on the correct time is a delicate task and involves pennies or coins. One of the most interesting Big Ben facts is that clock makers add a coin to manage the weight to speed up the pendulum or remove a penny to slow it down whenever needed. It is a process done three days a week to maintain accurate time.
10. When the old Westminster palace was destroyed by a fire in 1834,it was rebuilt by the design done by Charles Berry. However the clock tower was designed by both Augustus Welby Pugina and Charles Barry. And the clock itself was designed by the famous clock maker Benjamin Lous Vuillamy. It was built in a Neo-Gothic architectural style.
11. How the name “Big Ben” came around is still uncertain. Some say the tower was named after the politician and engineer Benjamin Hall, who was a very tall guy. Others believe the tower was named after heavyweight boxer Benjamin Caunt, an Englishman who won a tournament in the year the tower was highly debated subject.
12. Aside from the great bell “Big Ben,’ there are four quarter bells in the belfry. These bells play the famous melodic tone named “Westminster Quarters” every 15 minutes. The four bells are tuned in the notes of “G” sharp, “F” sharp, E and B.
13. Every 15 minute the 4 chime bells ring and on the top of each hour the real Big Ben makes its presence known by counting the hours. The sound of the Big Ben can be heard from a 5 mile radius.
14. The Big Ben was cracked by the hammer strike on October 1859 and it was silent for a few months. Then it was turned a bit so that the hammer strikes a different spot.
15. According to a survey done in 2008, Big Ben is the most popular tourist attraction in all of London.
These are some of the most notable Big Ben facts.
Author: Tajirul Haque
Tajirul Haque is a travel enthusiast and freelance travel writer on Upwork. Having written hundreds of travel articles on so many travel destinations around the world for his clients, Tajirul started Top Travel Lists back in September 2014. Travel writing is his passion and he always loves to write about a new destination as it allows him to know about more beautiful places the planet has to offer. He is always available for freelance travel writing opportunities.