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  • How Big is Big Ben?

    The dimensions of Big Ben bell give it a weight of 13 1/2 tons. The bell is 2.75 meters wide (9 feet) and 2.28 meters tall (7 feet six inches). The name Big Ben is for the bell on the Great Westminster Clock. However, it is often incorrectly used for the entire clock tower.

    Facts about Big Ben

    The bell was cast on April 10, 1858. The clock itself began operation on May 31, 1859. The bell chimed its first hour on July 11, 1859. The bell is situated in the Clock Tower’s belfry in the Westminster Palace.

    Origin of the Name

    There are several theories. One is that the bell was named after Sir Benjamin Hall who supervised the Great Bell installation. Other historians believe it was named after Benjamin Caunt, an English heavy weight champion. Still another theory is that the bell was supposed to be called Victoria. But the Londoners for some reason, began calling it Big Ben.

    Construction of the Bell

    The dimensions of Big Ben meant it had to be taken to the Westminster via a carriage. Casting of the bell took place on April 10 1858 at Whitechapel Bell Foundry, in East London. The bell is made from copper, tin and parts from an older bell.

    The bell is grey with a bit of green. The bell had to be cooled down for two weeks first. The bell is large enough you will feel the vibration from the head to your feet when it chimes. The bell does not have a clapper; it projects from the belfry and struck by a hammer.

    The Clock

    The Great Westminster Clock was created by Edmund Beckett Denison and Edward Dent. Dent made the original design, but it was Denison who came up with the layout that would become the present tower. The clock is accurate up to a second. It operates because of gravity.

    Weights are linked to cables that are in turn connected to gears. The cables are wind up three times weekly. Gravity draws down the weights. This causes the trains to turn. The escapement regulates the rotation and the pendulum.

    The hour hand is 2.7 meters long. It weighs 300 kilograms (600 pounds). The minute hand is 4.2 meters long and weighs 100 kilograms (220 pounds). The clock numbers are 2 feet high.

    The dimensions of Big Ben and the clock tower make it one of the most distinctive landmarks in London. Several polls indicate it is one of the British people’s favorite landmarks.

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