Cloisters of Saint John Lateran, Rome. Source:

Sunday, 1 January 2017

A Very Happy And Prosperous New Year To All Readers Of This Blog. "Big Ben" Strikes Again.

The Elizabeth Tower,
at the North End of The Palace of Westminster, London.
"Big Ben" is the nickname of The Great Bell of the Clock,
located in The Elizabeth Tower,
which rings out the chimes.
Photo: 11 August 2014.
Source: Own work.
Author: Diego Delso.
(Wikimedia Commons)

"Big Ben" Strikes Twelve.
Happy New Year.
Available on YouTube at

The main Bell, officially known as The Great Bell, is the largest Bell in the Tower and part of The Great Clock of Westminster. The Bell is better known by the nickname "Big Ben".

The original Bell was a 16 ton (16.3-tonne) Hour Bell, cast on 6 August 1856, in Stockton-on-Tees, by John Warner and Sons. The Bell was named in honour of Sir Benjamin Hall, and his name is inscribed on it. However, another theory, for the origin of the name, is that the Bell may have been named after a contemporary heavyweight boxer, Benjamin Caunt. It is thought that the Bell was originally to be called Victoria, or Royal Victoria, in honour of Queen Victoria, but that an MP suggested the nickname during a Parliamentary Debate; the comment is not recorded in Hansard.

Since the Tower was not yet finished, the Bell was mounted in New Palace Yard. Cast in 1856, the first Bell was transported to the Tower on a trolley, drawn by sixteen horses, with crowds cheering its progress. Unfortunately, it cracked beyond repair while being tested and a replacement had to be made.

Engraving of the second 'Big Ben',
taken from The Illustrated News of the World,
4 December 1858.
Date: 14 November 2009 (original upload date).
Source: Transferred from en.wikipedia;
Transferred to Commons by User:Igitur using CommonsHelper.
Author: Original uploader was Jack1956 at en.wikipedia.
(Wikimedia Commons)

The Bell was re-cast on 10 April 1858, at The Whitechapel Bell Foundry, as a 13½ ton (13.76-tonne) Bell. This was pulled 200 ft (61.0 m) up to The Clock Tower’s Belfry, a feat that took eighteen hours. The Bell is 7 feet 6 inches (2.29 m) tall and 9 feet (2.74 m) diameter. This new Bell first chimed in July 1859. In September 1859, it, too, cracked when hit by the Hammer, a mere two months after it officially went into service.

According to the Foundry's manager, George Mears, Denison had used a hammer more than twice the maximum weight specified. For three years, Big Ben was taken out of commission, and "The Hours" were struck on the lowest of The Quarter Bells, until it was re-installed. To make the repair, a square piece of metal was chipped out from the rim, around the crack, and the Bell given an eighth of a turn, so the new Hammer struck in a different place.

Big Ben has chimed with a slightly different tone ever since and is still in use today, complete with the crack. At the time of its casting, Big Ben was the largest Bell in The British Isles until "Great Paul", a 16¾ ton (17 tonne) Bell, currently hung in Saint Paul's Cathedral, was cast in 1881.

Whenever Big Ben is out of service, for repair or maintenance, its replacement is "Great Tom", which is hung in the nearby Saint Paul's Cathedral.

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