30 intreasting facts reagrding Big Ben (Clock Tower , London)

Big Ben, London
1)   While everyone knows this iconic landmark as Big Ben, the structure was officially known as “The Clock Tower”. In 2012, however, the official name was changed to Elizabeth Tower, marking the historic Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

2)    Although Big Ben is commonly used to refer to the tower as a whole, the nickname actually refers directly to the clock tower’s largest bell, weighing a staggering 13.5 long tons.

3)   The tower was designed by the English architect Augustus Pugin and completed in 1859.

4)    Standing at the literally towering height of 96 meters, Big Ben features 334 steps for those willing to take the challenge of climbing from the ground floor to the belfry!

5)    Pretty appearances aside, the clock featured on the tower is renowned for its precision and accuracy. Upon its completion, the clock was known around the world as both the largest and most accurate four-faced chiming clock on the planet.

6)    The origin of the bell’s nickname is uncertain. One popular account states that it was named after Benjamin Caunt, a heavyweight boxing champion. Another contends that it was named after Sir Benjamin Hall, a Welsh Civil Engineer who oversaw the construction

7)    Big Ben still uses its original Victorian mechanism to ring the bells. However, the tower features a modern electric motor as a back-up in case the old mechanism fails, keeping the clock’s fellow Londoners punctual!

8)    The base of each clock dial features the Latin inscription: Domine Salvam fav Reginam Nostram Victoriam Primam. This translates to O Lord, keep safe our Queen Victoria the First.

9)    The clock stopped at 10:07 p.m. on 27 May 2005, most likely due to an extremely hot temperature of 31.8 degrees Celsius.

10)  During a test in 1857, the original bell cracked. A second replacement bell was cast shortly after in April of the following year.

11) This replacement bell cracked as well in 1859. Those in charge of the bell solved the issue by rotating the bell a quarter of the way clockwise and using a lighter hammer to chime it.

12)   23 lightbulbs illuminate each of the clock faces. Every lightbulb equipped at each clock face enjoys a lifetime of over 60,000 hours. That’s a life span of almost 7 years!

13)   The clock accurately broadcasts the time to local on-lookers, correct to within a single second.

14)   The clock tower endured a German bomb in 1941. While minor ornamental work became tarnished, attempts to destroy the clock completely proved unsuccessful.

15)   Despite the clock’s renowned accuracy, severe weather conditions have proven to alter the time at which the bells chime. On New Year’s Eve in 1962, of all days, heavy ice and snow caused a delay in the chime, causing Big Ben to ring a whole ten minutes late.

16)   While Big Ben famously draws tourists from all around the world, the tower’s interior is only accessible to United Kingdom residents. To do so, these residents must arrange a tour through their Member of Parliament well in advance.

17)   Because ground conditions have altered since Big Ben’s original construction, it tilts slightly to the north-west at a distance of roughly 230 millimetres. For all those concerned, experts say that the tower’s lean should not be a problem for about another 5,000 to 10,000 years.

18)   Various thermal effects throughout the year cause the tower to oscillate a few millimetres east and west.

19)   Journalists often referred to the tower as St. Stephen’s Tower during the reign of Queen Victoria, alluding to the fact that MPs would sit at St. Stephen’s Hall.  All House of Commons affairs were thus referred to as news from St. Stephen’s. In Welsh, this usage continues wherein the Westminster district is known as San Steffan.

20)   Breaking tradition, the Roman numeral denoting 4 o’clock is depicted as IV and not IIII as is shown on most Roman numeral clock dials.

21)   Clock maintainers use penny coins to make tiny adjustments to the time. Adding or removing a penny coin can change the clock speed by up to 0.4 seconds a day!

22)   To ensure accurate time keeping, workers hand wind the clock three times a week. Each winding takes workers about 1.5 hours to complete.

23)   Paying tribute to one of Britain’s most well-respected statesmen, the bells were silenced during the funeral of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

24)   The clock experienced its first and only major breakdown in 1976. When the air brake speed regulator failed, it caused significant damage to the clock and required a shutdown for a total of 26 days over 9 months.

25)   Making Big Ben stand out proudly in the London skyline, both the clock’s dials and belfry are illuminated at night.

26)   Big Ben serves as the focal point of New Year celebrations in the United Kingdom.

27)   At 8:12 a.m., Big Ben chimed 30 times on 27 July 2012 to welcome in the 30th Olympic Games.

28)   Snapshots and pictures of Big Ben are often used in film and television to establish that a scene is about to take place in London.

29)    Big Ben has been undergoing major renovations since August 2017 and has since silenced its chimes. The bell is expected to resume tolling in 2021

30)   While Big Ben has been silenced, it will nevertheless continue to strike on important dates such as Remembrance Sunday and New Year’s Eve.
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