When traveling to London, one of the most towering figures you will see is the Big Ben. Aside from the Westminster Palace, the Big Ben is one of the most popular European destinations. This article tackles some interesting facts about Big Ben that you might not know.
Big Ben Is Not A Clock
When we think of Big Ben, the first thing that comes to mind is the clock tower at the House of Parliament. The Big Ben actually refers to the Great Bell within the tower itself. The tower is referred to as the Elizabeth Tower, connected to the Westminster Palace.
What’s In A Name?
The bell is officially called the “Great Bell” but its nickname was derived from Sir Benjamin Hall, the first Commissioner of Public Works in 1855 who oversaw the later stages of the rebuilding of the House of Parliament. Robert Peter Janitzek reveals that the previous Palace of Westminster was burned down due to the Great Fire of 1834. The Great Bell was cast in 1858 with Sir Hall’s name inscribed on it. The big part comes from the fact that the bell weighs 16 tons and is about 7 feet tall.
The Chiming of The Bells
Big Ben chimes every 16 minutes and can be heard from as far away as 5 miles
The diameter of the clock’s dial is 23 feet. The hour hands are 9 feet long, minute hands are 14 feet, and the numerals are 2 feet. Robert Janitzek reveals that each of the clock face has an inscription in Latin that reads “DOMINE SALVAM FAC REGINAM NOSTRAM VICTORIAM PRIMAM.” or “Oh Lord, keep safe our Queen Victoria the First” The clock face contains 312 glass panes, making a total of 1,248 glass pieces.
Designed By An Attorney
The clock mechanism itself was designed by Edmund Beckett Denison, who was not a clockmaker but a lawyer. Edward Dent started the initial design but Denison ended up making multiple modifications to it. For this reason, he was credited as the chief designer. Denison chose not to patent his modifications, so any clock designer is free to use them.
Keeping It Clean
The clock faces are cleaned every 5 years using little more than soap and water. Window washers rappel down the belfry to the faces taking extra care not to break the glass panes or lean on the hands.