Big Ben is the nickname for the Great Bell of the Clock. It’s often used to refer to the clock tower and clock tower in London. Here are some interesting facts about Big Ben!
Officially, the tower is known as Elizabeth Tower. It was renamed in 2012 to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II. Legend has it that “Big Ben” was given to the tower by Londoners.
Although clock towers are admired nowadays for their aesthetics, there was a time when they had a purpose. Clock towers were usually located near the center of towns and were the tallest structures. The clock towers were becoming more common, and designers realized that the dial outside the tower would enable the townspeople to read the time at any given moment.
Here are some additional interesting facts about this amazing structure:
Facts about Big Ben
1. Number one
A survey revealed that Big Ben was London’s most visited tourist attraction.
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The hour hands measure 9ft in length, while the minute hands measure 14ft. The numerals measure 2ft high.
3. The Name
Officially, the bell is called “Great Bell,” but it gets its nickname “Big Ben” from Sir Benjamin Hall. He was the first Commissioner of Public Works and oversaw the later stages of rebuilding the Houses of Parliament.
4. Jingle Bells
The bell rings every 15 minutes and can be heard as far away as 12 km!
5. Remembrance Day
On Remembrance Day, the bells chime to commemorate the 11th hour of each month that marked the 11th day of World War I’s 11th month.
6. The Meaning of the Word
Latin words were found under the clock face. They read “DOMINE SELVAM FAC REGINA VICTORIAN PRIMAM,” which translated to “O Lord, keep safe Queen Victoria the First.”
7. Second Fact about Name
Another theory suggests that the name was named after Benjamin Caunt, a heavyweight boxing champ. This nickname, also known as “Big Ben,” was often given to the heavyweight in a class.
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8. The Sense of Time has been lost
Big Ben’s clock was down four-and-a-half minutes when a flock of starlings perched on the minute hand in August 1949.
9. First Chimes
The Big Ben chimes were broadcast on the first day of the new year, 1924.
10. The Clock Maker
Edmund Beckett Denison was the clockmaker and lawyer who designed the clock mechanism. Although Edward Dent was the original designer, Denison made numerous modifications to the clock mechanism, so he is credited with being the chief designer.
11. One Penny for Thought
Every year, a penny is used to adjust the clock. A penny is added to the pendulum if the clock is ticking fast. A penny is taken from the pendulum if the clock is slow. Each penny adds 2/5th of a second to the clock.
During World War II, the lights on the tower were dimmed to avoid a reference to German bombers.
It would have cost US$200,000 to build The Big Ben today.
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14. Nameless Bells
Each quarter-hour, four-quarter bells chime. They are also named!