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Big Ben represents British classical culture, is a symbol of London and the pride of British people. In films set in London, almost without exception, the figure of Big Ben will appear. In the movie “Thirty-Ninth Steps”, the actor hangs his hands on the hour hand of Big Ben, and fights desperately with the gangster who made the explosion. Every second of the minute hand is frightening.

Big Ben is located in the 98-meter-high clock tower of the Houses of Parliament at the north end of Westminster Abbey in London. It was built in 1859. Installed on the 95-meter-high clock tower on the east side of the North Parliament Building of Westminster Bridge, the circular clock on all sides of the clock tower, with a diameter of 6.7 meters, is a traditional landmark of London. Whenever the Parliament holds a meeting, the light above the big clock will light up. At night, the big clock floats quietly in the night sky under the shining of lights, and it is more magnificent to watch from the other side. Big Ben has four clock faces, each of which is inlaid with 312 pieces of milky white glass. Through the glass, the hour and minute hands are clearly visible.

A bus casts light trails as it passes the Houses of Parliament and Elizabeth Tower, also known as ‘Big Ben’, in London, U.K., on Thursday, March 2, 2017. U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May set a self-imposed deadline of March 31 to formally serve notice to the EU, after which the two sides are supposed to have two years to come to a settlement. Photographer: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg

The person in charge of the clock tower project is called Benjamin Hall, and people call this clock tower “Big Ben” by his nickname. Originally, the name was given to the 13-ton bell in the tower, but now it has become the name of the entire tower. At the beginning of its construction, the Royal Planetarium required that the first ring of each hour of the big clock be accurate to within one second. For this big clock with a heavy mechanical percussion device and hands exposed to wind and rain. In general, this requirement seems to be too harsh. However, in the end Big Ben was built as required and performed well. Modeled on the Great St. Mary’s Church in Cambridge, every bell that rings punctually is matched with the following words: “May God guide me forward, with the power of the Lord, bless my people.”
As a symbol of the City of London and a symbol of Britain, Big Ben is huge and gorgeous, weighing 13.5 tons, and the area of ​​four clock faces is about two square meters. Big Ben has been telling time for the City of London since 1859, ringing every hour according to Greenwich time, and it has been nearly a century and a half since then, even though Big Ben was cracked twice and recast during this period. Now the bells of Big Ben are still clear and beautiful. Since it was put into use in 1859, the British government has carried out maintenance on Big Ben every five years, including cleaning the clock body, replacing the timekeeping gear train and running gear train of Big Ben, etc.

Transportation to Big Ben

You can get off at Westminster Bridge Station by subway.

Origin of the name Big Ben

Big Ben is named after its builder Sir Benjamin (Benjamin Hall) when it was built in 1859, hence the name “Big Ben”. In 1859, the clock was produced under the supervision of Sir Benjamin Hall, the then Minister of Works. The “Big Ben” clock is regarded as a symbol of London. Anyone who visits London will not want to see Big Ben and stand on the bridge to admire this unique building in London. The entire Palace of Westminster was destroyed by fire in 1834. The current 97-meter-high clock tower was built when Queen Victoria ascended the throne in 1837. The big clock was built in 1856 and named after Sir Benjamin, the first supervisor of the construction project, and it was called “BIG BEN” (Big Ben). The clock cracked in 1857 and was recast in 1859.

Big Ben is indeed a bit cumbersome. The dial is 7 meters in diameter, has four clock faces, the length of the hour and minute hands are 2.75 meters and 4.27 meters, respectively, the pendulum weighs 305 kilograms, and the total weight of the clock is 13.5 tons. British Parliament Building It turned out that Big Ben was not inlaid. In 1834, a fire was caused by a large number of government documents being burned in the furnace of the Parliament Building. The northeast corner was supervised by Sir Benjamin Hall, the Minister of Works at the time, and cost 27,000 pounds. To commemorate his achievements, it was named Big Ben, which was originally Benjamin’s nickname.

The problem

“Big Ben” suddenly stopped for an hour and a half on the evening of May 27, 2005. Technicians still don’t understand why this 147-year-old clock “strikes”? An engineer of the British Parliament Building said on the 28th that Big Ben on the 95-meter-high clock tower on the east side of the Parliament building malfunctioned at 10:07 pm local time on the 27th, and its minute hand stopped rotating. Then, the minute hand began to rotate slowly and stopped again at 10:20. This stopped for one and a half hours before returning to normal.
Some people speculate that the hot weather may have caused the problem. The highest temperature in London on the 28th reached 31.8°C. The Meteorological Department said it was the hottest day in May in England since 1953. But the parliament building engineer believes that this statement lacks basis. “We learned that there was a slight malfunction, but then it started to operate again,” he said.
Big Ben has always been known for its punctuality. The indiscriminate bombing of London by Nazi Germany in World War II also failed to destroy it. However, after all, there is an “advanced age” who is more than a hundred years old, and it has also had some minor problems. For example, on New Year’s Day in 1962, heavy snow made it’s zero o’clock sound 10 minutes later than normal. In 1976, Big Ben was shut down for a time due to a problem with a small part. In addition, on August 30, 1997, it also unexpectedly stopped.

River Tames & Big Ben

On May 31, 2009, Big Ben celebrated its 150th birthday, and on July 11, 1859, Big Ben reported the time on the hour for the first time. According to the British watchmaker in charge of Big Ben, Big Ben loses power every three days, so they have to climb three times a week to wind it. At the same time, they can adjust the speed of Big Ben by adjusting the small coins placed above the pendulum. For example, adding a 1 penny coin is equivalent to adjusting the watch for 0.4 seconds in a day. It seems that time is money, and it does well in Big Ben.

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