The London icon Big Ben have been silent since last 21th of August in order to allow a series of renovations. The most famous clock in the world and one of the London’s icon, remains mute for the next four years.
But how well do you know about it?
Here are ten curiosities you should know about this famous clock tower.
- Everyone thinks the Big Ben is the Tower’s clock, but it is actually the name of the Bell inside. Big Ben is the nickname of what officially is called The Great Bell, a giant one of 16 tons. The Tower is known as the Elizabeth Tower in honor of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
- The clock that stands out from each of the four tower faces, each facing a cardinal point, is considered a masterpiece of mechanical engineering and has been the most accurate mechanical watch in the world for a long time. Each year, a penny is added or removed from counterweights of the mechanics to correct the small inaccuracy of time scanning.
- The origin of the name Big Ben has several theories. According to some and most common ones, the name would have been taken by Benjamin Hall, the Commissioner, as he was a big man, affectionately nicknamed Big Ben. But it also sayid that the name came from the heavyweight champion Benjamin Caunt, who was known to be “heavy” … just like the Bell of Westminister.
- The first chime dates back to 31 December 1859. In September of the same year, the Big Ben broke due to the use of a hammer too much big and it required required 3 years for repair. It was precisely that damage to create the distinctive sound of the Bell.
- Big Ben stopped 4 times in total in its long history (before the 21st of August 2017, the last time was in 2007). The House of Commons was destroyed by a bomb during World War II, yet Big Ben continued to beat.
- Each quadrant has 23 foot’s diameter, while the minute hand is about 138 foot. and weigh about 220 pounds! On each dial of the watch is engraved DOMINE SALVAM FAC REGINAM NOSTRAM VICTORIAM “PRIMAM” which means “O Lord, save our Queen Victoria I.”
- The largest bell rings every 15 minutes and the sound is audible within 2 Km.
- The tower measures more than 96 meters and at night it is illuminated by 112 light bulbs that are switched off at midnight to get back to the sunset the next day. A special little light placed above the clock lights up when members of Parliament are in session.
- Inside the Tower there are cells that target, in very rare cases, Parliament members who violate parliamentary privilege. The last case dates back to 1880.
- The Big Ben Tower can be visited only by British residents. Once the long-awaited day, you can climb the staircase inside, composed by ben 334 steps.
Do you want to know more about London? You might be intersted to know the 10 things to know about the London Tube.