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MPC  Great Buildings of the World
Big Ben

bigben.jpg - 19695 BytesBig Ben is located in London on the north banks of the Thames River. It is part of the Palace of Westminster where Britain’s Parliament meets. Parliament is where all Britain’s laws are discussed, made and changed.

It was built because the old palace of Westminster was destroyed by a fire in October 22, 1834. After the fire, Parliament decided that the new buildings for the Parliament should incorporate a tower and clock we often mistakenly refer to as Big Ben.

Cool fact: Big Ben is tallest clock tower in England!

Although the Palace of Westminster was designed by Sir Charles Barry, Augustus Pugin designed the Clock Tower that contains Big Ben. It was designed on the Gothic style.

It took a whole two years before it was finally finished in 1861. The Clock Tower is 320 feet high. The first 200 feet is built of brick work with stone cladding, but at the top it mostly made of cast iron.

Cool fact: The Clock Tower is the world's biggest four-faced, chiming clock.

Big Ben was named after the first commissioner of works, Sir Benjamin Hall. Big Ben is the name of the largest bell not the clock tower it self. The bell strikes the note E. The Clock Tower has 13 bells. It is also one hundred and fifty years old. The bells of the Great Clock of Westminster rang across London for the first time on 31st May 1859.

Cool fact: Big Ben (the largest bell), is 13.3 tons and is 7.5 feet tall!

The accuracy of the clock works by putting old pennies onto the end of the pendulum. Wikipedia says, “The idiom of putting a penny on, with the meaning of slowing down, sprang from the method of fine-tuning the clock's pendulum. The pendulum carries a small stack of old penny coins; adding or subtracting coins has the effect of minutely altering the position of the bob's centre of mass, the effective length of the pendulum rod and hence the rate at which the pendulum swings. Adding or removing a penny will change the clock's speed by 2/5th of one second per day.”

The clock's four dials each have a diameter of 23ft; the minute hands are 14ft. The minute hands of the great clock are made of copper and the hour hands are made of gunmetal. The numerals on each face are nearly 2 feet high. There are 312 panes of glass in each of the four faces.

There is a light at the top of Big Ben that indicates that the House of Commons are sitting. In the day you would see a flag flying.

Cool fact: Big Ben is the most famous time keeper in England!

Big BenBig Ben is probably my favorite clock tower in the world! My favorite part is the architecture. But my second favorite part is the clock and tower itself!

Other Information on Big Ben
About Briton (of course!)
Visit Big Ben
Whitechapel Bell Foundry
WorldWonders: Big Ben History
Explore UK Parliament

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