BIG BEN

Most people are unaware that the name for one symbols of London, Big Ben, doesn’t refer to the Parliament bell tower, not even a clock featured in a hundred postcards, but a huge bell inside. In 1844, the Parliament decided to add a bell tower to the new Houses of Parliament. But the clock mechanism with the desired accuracy wasn’t constructed until 1854. The clock and the bells were designed by sir Edmund Becket Denison. Big Ben that echoes through London today is not the first bell built for this bell tower. The first Big Ben was slightly fractured during testing and thus rendered unusable. From the metals gained by melting of the first Big Ben a new one was made. Alongside the big bell there are also four smaller ones inside the bell tower. The bells of this huge clock in Westminster were heard for the first time in London on May the 31st 1859, but only 2 months later a second Big Ben was also damaged because the hammer used was too large. During the following 3 years only 4 smaller bells were used. A large bell was set in such a way that a new smaller hammer is used to beat on its undamaged side. That is a bell which is heard today and its distinctive sound is caused by precisely that fracture. Big Ben was broadcasted for the first time on radio on 31st of December 1923 as a welcome to the New Year. It played a special role during the 2nd World War when its sound provided comfort and hope during those difficult times. The bell weighs 13 760 kg, and it was most likely named after the imposing and loud member of Parliament in those days, sir Benjamin Hall.

BIG BEN