Big Ben





The big clock on the tower of the Palace of Westminster in London is often called Big Ben.

But Big Ben is really the bell of the clock.

It is the biggest clockbell in Britain.

It weighs 13.5 tons.

The clock tower is 318 feet high.

You have to go up 374 steps to reach the top.

So the clock looks small from the pavement below the tower.

But its face is 23 feet wide.

It would only just fit into some classrooms.

The minute-hand is 14 feet long.

 Big Ben Facts

  • Each dial is seven metres in diameter
  • The minute hands are 4.2 metres long (14ft) and weigh about 100kg (220lbs, including counterweights)
  • The numbers are approximately 60cm (23in) long
  • There are 312 pieces of glass in each clock dial
  • A special light above the clock faces is illuminated when parliament is in session
  • Big Ben’s timekeeping is strictly regulated by a stack of coins placed on the huge pendulum.
  • Big Ben has rarely stopped. Even after a bomb destroyed the Commons chamber during the Second World War, the clock tower survived and Big Ben continued to strike the hours.
  • The chimes of Big Ben were first broadcast by the BBC on 31 December 1923, a tradition that continues to this day.
  • The latin words under the clockface read DOMINE SALVAM FAC REGINAM NOSTRAM VICTORIAM PRIMAM, which means “O Lord, keep safe our Queen Victoria the First”
  • In June 2012 the House of Commons announced that the clock tower was to be renamed the Elizabeth Tower in honour of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee.


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