The Tourist Attraction of london, the big ben clock tower is famous for its reliability and has steadily kept time ever since its inception.
Big Ben, one of the world’s largest four-faced clocks, is also one of London’s best-known landmarks. The building is known as the Palace of Westminster and the clock tower is sometimes called St Stephen’s Tower, although it is commonly referred to as Big Ben. The Big Ben Clock, is actually a misnomer; it is the bell inside structure that is named Big Ben. What many people call Big Ben Clock Tower was actually named the Clock Tower or Saint Stephens Tower. Nonetheless, most people know the entire structure as Big Ben in London. To mark the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II’s 60 year reign as Queen, the tower was renamed Elizabeth Tower in 2012.
Big Ben’s timekeeping is strictly regulated by a stack of coins placed on the huge pendulum. Big Ben has rarely stopped and even after an incendiary bomb destroyed the Commons chamber during the Second World War. The clock tower survived and Big Ben continued to strike the hours.
History of Big Ben’s Time keeping
The history of the Big Ben Clock Tower at Westminster dates back to the 13th Century but the tower as we now know it has its roots in 19th Century Britain. The inner workings of the Clock Tower’s Belfry are beautiful to behold. Truly a master-stroke of design and implementation, it was revolutionary for its time. It is still lauded for the innovation of its creator, Edmund Beckett Denison. His achievement is all the more impressive because he wasn’t even a professional clock maker. To him, it was a part-time hobby between life as a barrister and an MP.
George Airy had issued requirements that many clock makers had found fanciful and impossible to achieve. Among those conditions was a desire for complete precision in the clock’s time-keeping. Denison’s ‘Double Three-Legged Gravity Escapement’ guaranteed the clock’s accuracy by ensuring that the pendulum was impervious to external factors. It provided the best gap between the pendulum and the clock mechanism, thus assuring its dependability. Famous around the world for keeping impeccable time, the Big Ben Clock became fully operational on September 7, 1859. Ben Ben in London is used to ring in the city’s New Year and is a rallying point for the New Year’s celebration of the entire country of England.
The clock is famous for its reliability and has steadily kept time ever since its inception. Except for a few hiccups:
- The bell cracked just three months after it was installed. This was eventually corrected and has given Big Ben its distinctive sound.
- 1939-1945 – the illumination of the clocks was stopped to conform with the blackout rules.
- 1976 – Big Ben remained chime-less for nine months after the clock mechanism exploded, causing heavy damage.
- 2007 – Silence for seven weeks as the clock underwent essential maintenance ahead of its 150th birthday in 2009.
Big Ben Tour
The best time to see Big Ben may be at night, when the clock faces are illuminated, as is the facade of the Palace of Westminster facing the Thames. The effect from Westminster Bridge or the far bank of the Thames can be breathtaking. Tourists planning to visit Big Ben National Park will enjoy visiting this visual symbol of the United Kingdom. Recent photos of the Big Ben Clock Tower often show the London Eye Millennium Wheel in the background; a nearby attraction that is also worth visiting. Big Ben has and continues to stand tall as a powerful British icon and place for celebration.
- Opening Times: Tours Mon to Fri 9.15am, 10.15am, 11.15am & 2.15pm | Max number: 16 people per tour
- Prices: Free – but by prior arrangement only