March 11

Big Ben: Iconic Landmark in London


Big Ben: Iconic Landmark in London

Emigrating or planning a holiday to the UK?

London is one of the UK’s top destinations, There are plenty of popular attractions to keep you busy. One of the most popular things to do is visit Big Ben. 

What is Big Ben?

The houses of Parliament and Elizabeth Tower, commonly called Big Ben are some of London’s most iconic landmarks and must-see attractions when visiting London.

Big Ben is the name given to the massive bell inside the clock tower. The bell weighs an impressive 13 tons (13,760 kgs).

The four clock faces light up making the clock tower look spectacular at night.

When was Big Ben built?

The Palace of Westminster was destroyed in 1834 by a fire. In 1844, it was decided the new buildings for the Houses of Parliament should include a tower and a clock. 

A massive bell was required and the first attempt (made by John Warner & Sons at Stockton-on-Tees) cracked irreparably. The metal was melted down and the bell recast in Whitechapel in 1858.

Big Ben first rang across Westminster on 31 May 1859. A short time later, in September 1859, Big Ben cracked. A lighter hammer was fitted and the bell rotated to present an undamaged section to the hammer. This is the bell as we hear it today.

How tall is Big Ben?

The Elizabeth Tower stands at more than 96 meters (105yrds) tall, with 334 steps to climb up to the belfry and 399 steps to the Ayrton Light at the very top of the tower.

Why is Big Ben called Big Ben?

The origin of the name Big Ben is not known, although two different theories exist.

  • The first is that it was named after Sir Benjamin Hall, the first commissioner of works, a large man who was known affectionately in the house as “Big Ben”.
  • The second theory is that it was named after a heavyweight boxing champion at that time, Benjamin Caunt. Also known as “Big Ben”, this nickname was commonly bestowed in society to anything that was the heaviest in its class.

Where is Big Ben?

Big Ben is found in the Elizabeth Tower at the north end of The Houses of Parliament in Westminster, Central London, next to the river Thames.

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