If you haven’t ever visited London, England, then you have to see Big Ben at least once in your life! There are many iconic sights in the city but none so well known as the clock tower at the Palace of Westminster (also known as the Houses of Parliament). The name Big Ben actually refers to the bell housed inside it (although most people just call it the clock tower). So what do you need to know about Big Ben? Here are 10 fun facts that you probably didn’t know about this London landmark!
1) The original name was the great bell
The original name of the bell was the great bell, and it is the largest bell in Britain. The great bell was originally forged to commemorate Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee, but due to a number of delays, it did not ring until 1859. It was also known as the hour bell.
2) The bell weighs 13.7 tons
Big Ben is one of the most iconic symbols of London. It is officially named the Elizabeth Tower and is located on the north bank of the River Thames. The tower is 315 feet (96 meters) tall and has a clock face that measures 7.3 feet (2.2 meters) in diameter with each number as tall as a person, making it easily visible from across London.
3) A crack in the tower delayed the construction process
Construction on the tower began in 1843 and was completed in 1859. However, while they were building it, a large crack had developed in the foundation. The builders tried to fix it by pumping a mixture of concrete and water into the ground around the base of the tower, but it wasn’t enough. In 1847, work ceased for 10 years as engineers debated how to fix it.
4) Big Ben is neither big nor a ben
Big Ben is the name of the clock in London and not actually a person’s name. It was originally called the Great Bell, but there are many theories as to why it was nicknamed after an English heavyweight boxer. One story goes that the tower got its moniker from a boxing match between British champion Benjamin Caunt and Irishman John Sullivan at Camberwell on 4 May 1817. After Caunt knocked out Sullivan in just three minutes 30 seconds, crowds shouted Big Ben! Big Ben! In another story it was named after Sir Benjamin Hall who oversaw construction of the clock tower.
5) The face on Big Ben doesn’t move
- The face on Big Ben doesn’t move.
- The clock is accurate to within one second every 20 years and gains an average of 30 seconds per day
- It was designed by Edward John Dent and built in 1859 by Edmund Beckett Denison
- The clock has never been stopped, not even when the Germans bombed it during World War II
- It weighs 13 tons and is 141 feet tall
6) The architects had to fight to put a clock on the building at all
The architects had to fight to put a clock on the building at all. The original design had no clock, but Sir Benjamin Hall thought it was an important addition. He eventually won the debate and the clock was added in 1859.
7) They took down the old tower that stood before it because they hated its design
It’s not just a clock, it’s a monument to London and the whole of Great Britain.
The tower was designed by Charles Barry who also designed the Houses of Parliament.
It is officially called Elizabeth Tower after Queen Elizabeth II.
It weighs around 13 million pounds and is over 150 feet tall, making it one of the most iconic landmarks in London.
8) They discovered this weird thing inside when they dismantled the old tower…
When the old tower was being dismantled, they found a bell inside. It’s unclear what the bell is from or what it was used for. It’s possible that it was just left behind by mistake, but there are also several theories about its significance. Some people believe that it may have been used as a fire alarm or to signal the start and end of work shifts. Others think that it might have been put in place to commemorate a major event, such as Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953.
9) Sometimes someone stands in for Big Ben during maintenance
Big Ben is one of the most iconic landmarks in England, as well as one of the most recognizable structures in the world. When it needs a break from standing tall and ringing out time, it’s not uncommon for someone to stand in for it.
10) And sometimes they use a recording instead of live strikes…
The bell is made of 18.7 tons of cast iron and it weighs more than 13 African elephants. It was cast on October 12, 1858 and first rung on July 11, 1859. The last time it was completely overhauled was in 1983 when the bearings were replaced after they’d worn down to metal particles!