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Amazing Facts About Incredible Big Ben Bell Of London

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. When one thinks of Great Britain or England, along with the Millennium Dome, the Thames River and the Royal Family, Big Ben or the clock tower also comes to mind.
The familiar looming shadow of the great clock, its hourly and quarterly chimes echoing across London, is icon of England. The Big Ben chimes every 15 minutes and its sound can be heard within a 5 miles radius. The actual title of "Big Ben" is not the clock tower itself but actually refers to the big clock bell, that produces the deep and sonorous chime.
The tower was designed by Augustus Pugin in a neo-Gothic style. Its clock was the largest and most accurate four-faced striking and chiming clock in the world when completed. The tower stands 315 feet tall, and it has 334 steps. Dials of the clock are 23 feet in diameter. The tower is a British cultural icon recognized all over the world.
It is believed Big Ben was named after Sir Benjamin Hall, who oversaw its installation, whose name is inscribed on the bell. There is another belief that the bell was named after Ben Caunt, a champion heavyweight boxer. The clock uses its original Victorian mechanism, but an electric motor can be used as a backup.
Big Ben and its chimes illustrate the difference between the speed of light and sound. Stand by the base of the Elizabeth Tower and you’ll hear the bell’s chimes about one-sixth of a second after the bell is struck.
The musical note it makes when struck is E. There are four smaller bells beneath Big Ben that ring on the ‘quarter’ hours. They strike the notes G sharp, F sharp, E and B.
The Palace of Westminster had 2 clock towers, prior to Big Ben. The first tower was built during the time of King Edward I. It was replaced by a second tower in 1397, which was replaced by a sundial in 1707. In 1834 on the 16th of October, the Palace of Westminster, the English House of Parliament was destroyed by fire. 
There was nothing left after fire. Only Westminster Hall had managed to survive. The English Parliament decided to rebuild the Palace and the architect chosen was Charles Barry. Charles Barry's winning design did not feature a clock tower but the Parliament pressurized him into changing his design to include a clock tower in 1836.
Berry's assistant Augustus Pugin was in charge of the clock tower's construction. Pugin was also the mastermind behind the Gothic arches and interiors of the Palace. Construction of the clock tower started in full scale in the year of 1843. While Barry had a vision of a large, 4 faced clock, they hired Benjamin Lewis Vulliamy to create the clock.
The "Double Three-legged Gravity Escapement" mechanism added to clock, ensured complete accuracy irrespective of external hindrances, like wind pressure or temperature. Warners of Cripplegate, who built a massive sixteen ton bell in 1856 for quartely chimes of clock. Clock tower was not read so bell and clock was stored.
All this testing ultimately cracked the bell in 1857. the Whitechapel Bell Foundry approached the tower building committee and recast the bell in 1858. It was smaller and weighed just 13½ tons. Finally in 1859, the clock tower, clock and bells were all fitted and working together. The bell cracked again in October of 1859.
As the tower was one size smaller to the actual bell, it was impossible to remove bell from tower. So, the entire tower would have to be demolished just to fix the bell. But George Airy suggested that the bell should be turned by just a quarter, so that the clock hammer would strike a different location on the bell, not the cracked region.
Suggestion by George Airy worked. This operation resulted in the complete functioning of the clock in 1862. The original crack still remains on the Big Ben till this day. The bells did not chime and the clock dial was darkened in 1916 and 1939 to prevent it from German attack in world war.
The clock experienced a serious breakdown and the chiming mechanism broke down completely in 1976. It took one complete year for repairing the bell. Some of the internal parts of the clock were replaced and an electric motor is added to bell for backup. So this historic icon of England restarted functioning afterwords.
The tower leans. It has an inclination of about 1/250 (0.04 degrees)