to Big Ben
Houses of Parliament- London, England.
CLOCK TOWER HEIGHT: 320 feet.
CLOCK DIALS: 4
DIALS DIAMETER: 23 feet.
LARGEST BELL WEIGHT: 13.5 tons.
MINUTE HANDS LENGTH: 14 feet..
NUMBER SIZE: 2 feet.
THE TOWER: Is not open to public.
the most famous clock face and chimes in the
world. BIG BEN is actually the name of the
largest bell inside The Clock Tower which forms
part of the HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT. The accuracy of
the clock movement is controlled by placing of
old pennies in the mechanism.
sound of the Houses of Parliament clock chiming
the hour signifies a daily ritual for many a
radio listener. Sited in St Stephen's Tower, the
clock is better known as Big Ben -- though the
name strictly applies only to the largest of the
Tower's bells. Its chimes are broadcast on BBC
radio as part of its time signal service and to
herald the start of Radio 4's Six O'Clock News.
its inception in 1922, the BBC has broadcast time
signals over the radio. Originally the signal was
a tune played by the announcer on a set of
tubular bells. In 1924 a regular time signal
service from the Greenwich Observatory was
broadcast as a series of six electronically
Ben was first heard over the radio on New Year's
Eve, 1923, when its chimes were broadcast at
midnight to announce the New Year. From February
17th, 1924, the bell of Big Ben could regularly
be heard on BBC radio, along with the Greenwich
their conception in 1844 as part of Sir Charles
Barry's design for the new Houses of Parliament,
the clock and its bell have been plagued with
misfortune. The clock was finished in 1854, but
remained at the manufacturer's workshop for five
years as the tower was not ready to receive it.
In 1856 the clock's great bell was cast. Because
of a miscalculation the finished bell weighed
sixteen tons instead of the fourteen intended.
During testing the bell developed a four-foot
crack and was pronounced `porous, unhomogenous,
unsound and a defective casting'. It was broken
up and the material used to cast another.
the clock was finally placed in position within
the Tower, it was found that the 2 1/2-ton cast-iron
hands were too heavy to move and so were replaced
with hands made from a lighter material. On May
31st, 1859, the clock and bell became
operational, but within a few months the bell
cracked again. Too large a hammer had been
fitted, so instead of recasting the bell, a
lighter hammer was fitted.
chimes have been broadcast daily since they were
started. With the outbreak of the Second World
War, however, it was decided that they should not
be transmitted after dark. In 1940, the telegraph
line that was used to check the clock's accuracy
with the Greenwich Observatory was destroyed. The
link was never repaired as the Westminster clock
had proved remarkably accurate -- it had been no
more than a second out on 347 of 365 days the
Ben was out of action for several months in 1934
and 1956 when it was cleaned and repaired. The
chimes of Great Tom, the bell at St Paul's
Cathedral, were used as a replacement time signal.
February 18th, 1956, radio listeners heard an odd
time signal. The clock's microphone picked up and
broadcast to the nation a mixture of chimes and