I absolutely love everything about London - including Big Ben, the tower clock in St. Stephen's Tower that looks out over the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London began keeping time on this date in 1859. Designed by Edmund Beckett Denison, the clock was completed in 1854. Five years later, the tower was finished.
Big Ben’s famous bongs will be silenced for four years from next week as major conservation work is carried out. The deafening chimes are being stopped to protect workers who are renovating the Elizabeth Tower that houses the Great Clock and its bell - set to be completed by 2021. It will be the longest period Big Ben has been silenced in its 157-year history. The 13.7-tonne Great Bell was last stopped for maintenance in 2007 and before that was halted for two years in 1983 for refurbishment, but has been stopped on a number of other occasions since it first sounded in 1859.
Stiff upper lip facts about Big Ben :
**The tower was designed by Augustus Pugin in a neo-gothic style and when completed in 1859, its clock was the largest and most accurate four-faced striking and chiming clock in the world.
**Dials of the clock are 23 feet (7.0 m) in diameter.
**Big Ben is the largest of five bells and weighs 13.57 tonnes and was the largest bell in the United Kingdom for 23 years.
**Four quarter bells chime at 15, 30 and 45 minutes past the hour and just before Big Ben tolls on the hour. The clock uses its original Victorian mechanism, but an electric motor can be used as a backup.
**The pendulum is installed within an enclosed windproof box beneath the clockroom. It is 13 feet (4.0 m) long, weighs 660 pounds (300 kg), suspended on a strip of spring steel 1/64 inch in thickness, and beats every two seconds. The clockwork mechanism in a room below weighs five tons.
**Winding the clock mechanism - on top of the pendulum is a small stack of old penny coins; these are to adjust the time of the clock. Adding a coin has the effect of minutely lifting the position of the pendulum's centre of mass, reducing the effective length of the pendulum rod and hence increasing the rate at which the pendulum swings. Adding or removing a penny will change the clock's speed by 0.4 seconds per day..
**The clock is hand wound (taking about 1.5 hours) three times a week.