Big Ben Curiosities • London Hostel, Palmers Lodge
The Houses of Parliament looking onto the Thames.

Big Ben Curiosities

  1. ¿Why Big Ben?

Almost from the creation of the tower it was called Big Ben. Actually, this name is not for the entire tower, but just for the big bell inside of the tower instead, which had a weight of 16 tons. At first, the name was for the clock and nowadays we use it (mistakenly) for the whole tower.


  1. Bell problems.

The huge Bell didn’t last long and it got replaced because it had a fissure in its structure. On its place was located another one, smaller, but it was broken two months later.


  1. Big Ben’s name origin.

There are doubts about the origin of its name. People accept that it was a tribute to Sir Benjamin Hall, a civil engineer who coordinated the Parliament’s building. However, it is believed that maybe it was selected because there was another celebrity called Benjamin Caunt who was a boxer and was known as Big Ben as well and took part in Big Ben’s transfer.


  1. The 2nd biggest four faces clock in the world.

Although Big Ben is a very big clock, today it’s not the biggest four faces watch in the world because it was surpassed by a similar one in Minneapolis City, in USA.


  1. Weather vs Punctuality

There have been many external factors that have interrupted its normal operation. For example, in New Year’s Eve in 1962 a huge snowfall delayed the clock 10 minutes. On the opposite side, a hot wave that raised the temperature to 35 degrees Celsius caused a failure in the mechanism.


  1. London’s inclined clock.

In the future, the Big Ben is going to look similar to the Pisa Tower, which is leaning. A study that was done in 2011 realized that the tower had been moved 43 cm because of underground works to do it bigger. It is continuing leaning 0.9 mm on average per year, but no-one will see it in this lifetime because it will have to pass 4000 years to get like the Pisa Tower.


  1. Elizabeth Queen Tribute.

Officially since 2009 its name is Elizabeth Tower because of the Queen’s Jubilee.


  1. Victoria the First.

It’s not possible to see it, but in the base of the clock it can be read “DOMINE SALVAM FAC REGINAM NOSTRAM VICTORIAM PRIMAM”, which means “O Lord, keep safe our Queen Victoria the First”.


  1. War History.

During the First and Second World War the clock didn’t turn up its lights to avoid being a guide to Blitz’s pilots and Zeppelins.


  1. An imitated model.

There are Big Ben’s copies all over the world. Parliament Tower in Ottawa (Canada), Pachuca’s Monumental Clock in Mexico, Little Big Ben in La Paz in Bolivia or English Tower in Retiro, Buenos Aires. They used Big Ben as a reference to build their own icon but they used their own colours, structure and dimensions.


  1. Heir of New Palace Yard.

Big Ben could be considered a New Palace Yard’s heir because it was there before Big Ben. New Palace Yard was built in 1290 and it was an older version of Big Ben. It was a smaller tower with a clock that was used until 1707.


  1. Silence because of mourning.

In 1965 and in 2013 the chimes of Big Ben were silenced due to the Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher’s funerals.


  1. Olympic Games Bell.

In July 27th 2012, at 20:12, the Big Ben chimed 30 times to celebrate the start of the Olympic Games in London.


  1. More than 8.000 tons of Clock.

The weight approximately of the tower is about 8660 tons, more than the Eiffel Tower (7000 tons). The Pisa Tower wins the challenge with 14520 tons.