10 little-known facts about Big Ben

You may have heard the news: From today, London’s biggest landmark; Big Ben, will be chiming no longer until 2021. In tribute, here are some little-known facts about the famous clock tower which dominates the London skyline. 

1. Big Ben’s official name is the Elizabeth Tower. In fact, the nickname refers to the bell in the tower. It’s commonly believed the bell is named in honour of Sir Benjamin Hall; the First Commissioner of Works. Although Sir Benjamin Halls’ name is inscribed on the bell, there is also a theory that it is named after the heavyweight boxer Benjamin Caunt.

2. An interesting history surrounds the beginning of the bell in the tower. The first bell cracked, as it sailed down the river Thames in 1857. Two years later, the replacement bell also broke. This time, the problem was fixed with a bit of Victorian ingenuity, by turning the bell a quarter and chiming it with a less heavy hammer. A small square was also cut into the bell, to make sure that the crack didn’t spread any further.

3. This isn’t the first time that Big Ben has had its chimes silenced since its creation. After the 1859 bell crack, the bell would not chime again for another four years. Almost 80 years later, Big Ben had a nine-month period of silence in 1976, and more recently was quiet for seven weeks during repairs in 2007.

4. There is a difference in sound between hearing the chimes at the bottom of the tower and at the top. When standing at the bottom, you will hear the chimes a sixth of a second slower than anyone at the top, or anybody listening to a radio transmission of the bells.

5. The tower itself is 315 feet tall, equivalent to 96 metres, and has a total of 11 floors.

6. The Elizabeth Tower is 158 years old, with its 150th anniversary celebrated in 2009. The tower has so far lasted through six different monarchs: Queen Victoria, King Edward VII, King George V, King Edward VIII, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II.

7. Before December 2016, UK residents could have free guided tours of the Elizabeth Tower, as well as a visit to Big Ben itself. These tours will be unavailable until the repairs have finished, starting again in 2020.

8. The Ayrton Light, above the face of Big Ben, shines whenever parliament is in session. This was installed at the behest of Queen Victoria, so she could see whenever members were sitting, and was named after the Barrister; Acton Smee Ayrton.

9. There is a Latin sentence inscribed underneath the face of the clock. The Latin text reads, “Domine Salvam Fac Reginam Nostram Victoriam Primam”, which translates to, “O Lord, save our Queen Victoria the First”.

10. The tower faced some damage during World War 2. During the late hours of the 10th of May 1941, a high explosive bomb was released above the tower by a German aircraft. This destroyed some of the tower’s ironwork and stonework, as well as the glass of the southern face. Surprisingly, the clock remained functional during the raid. Attempts to fully destroy the tower were ineffective, fortunately.

BONUS FACT: In our branches, a bell is rung each time we place a new candidate. Unlike Big Ben, that bell continues to ring day in and day out! 


JUST 5 Big Ben Facts from Just Recruitment Group on Vimeo.


© 2017 Just Recruitment Group Ltd.

Posted on Monday Aug 21