Big Ben's famous bongs will sound for the last time next Monday before major conservation works - regular bongs won't restart until 2021!
Big Ben (Elizabeth Tower) stands at the north end of the Palace of Westminster
|Alternative names||Big Ben|
|Architectural style||Gothic Revival|
|Location||London, England, UK|
|Completed||31 May 1859|
|Height||96 metres (315 ft)|
|Design and construction|
Big Ben is the nickname for the Great Bell of the clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster in London and is usually extended to refer to both the clock and the clock tower as well.The tower is officially known as Elizabeth Tower, renamed to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II in 2012; previously, it was known simply as the Clock Tower.
When completed in 1859, it was, says clockmaker Ian Westworth, “the prince of timekeepers: the biggest, most accurate four-faced striking and chiming clock in the world.” The tower had its 150th anniversary on 31 May 2009, during which celebratory events took place.
A British cultural icon, the tower is one of the most prominent symbols of the United Kingdom and is often in the establishing shotof films set in London.
Big Ben, one of the world's largest four-faced clocks, is also one of London's most famous landmarks. The name, which originally referred to the hour bell, was given in honor of Sir Benjamin Hall, the commissioner of works when the bell was installed in 1856.
The hour bell weighs 13 tons (13,760 kg) and is nine feet (2.7 m) in diameter and 7.5 feet (2.3m) high. It was cast at Whitechapel Bell Foundry in 1858, and rang for the first time from its spot over Westminster Palace on May 31, 1859. The clock tower is 316 feet (96 m) high. The dials of the clock are 23 feet (7 m) square; the minute hand is 14 feet (4.25 m) long and the figures are 2 feet (.6 m) high. It is a particularly accurate timepiece, and has rarely stopped in its long history.
When Parliament is in session, a light shines above the clock face. At night, the four clock faces are illuminated, making it a particularly impressive site.
UK nationals may climb the clock tower by prior arrangement; contact a local MK by calling: 020·7219·3000. Visitors from abroad can request a tour by writing at least three months in advance to: Clock Tower Tours, Parliamentary Works Services Directorate, 1 Canon Row, London, SW1A 2JN, England.