Big Ben is the colloquial name given to the massive bell of the great clock which is located at the northern end of London’s Palace of Westminster. However the name is also used for the clock itself as well as the clock tower. The official name for the latter is now the Elizabeth Tower, having been renamed to mark the Diamond Jubilee of the present monarch, Elizabeth II. Even today the immense clock is the biggest chiming four-faced clock on the globe; whilst the clock tower is ranked amongst the tallest such free-standing towers in the world. This iconic tower has become one of the most recognized symbols of the British capital.
Interestingly the first main bell cast for the clock weighing no less than 16 tonnes cracked soon after it was cast. Accordingly it was melted down and a second, slightly smaller bell was created. Soon after this bell was installed, it too developed a crack; rather than recast the bell once more the crack was carefully repaired and a less heavy hammer was installed to prevent the problem from recurring.
The bell’s well-known name was probably derived from noted civil engineer Sir Benjamin Hall; another possibility for the origin of the name is Benjamin Caunt, a well-known heavyweight boxer.
The immense clock installed at the site is one of the largest on the globe, with each face featuring a diameter of nearly 25 feet. The minute hand is no less than 14 feet in length while the hour hand has a length of 9 feet. This clock is renowned for its unfailing reliability, and it has shown very few instances of failure in its lengthy lifespan.
Meanwhile the clock tower is a lofty 316 feet in height consisting of a brick column surmounted by an iron spire. The faces of the clock are positioned 180 feet above floor level.
Visitors to London often take the opportunity to admire this unmistakable icon of the United Kingdom.
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Thanuja Silva is a travel writer who writes under the pen name Auburn Silver. She has a passion for fashion and a deep interest in admiring new and exotic attractions around the world.