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Today in History (1859): Big Ben chimes for the first time

Nobody visits London without seeing Big Ben!

Big Ben is a nickname previously used to refer to the huge bell of the clock at the Palace of Westminster, the headquarters of the British House of Parliament. On this same day in 1859, Big Ben, the bell, rang for the first time.

Photo by orangebird

Citizens and tourists call the clock and even the tower itself Big Ben, even if the tower is now officially called Elizabeth Tower, to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

Big Ben, the clock, is the biggest four-faced chiming clock in the whole world. It is also one of London’s most famous—-and possibly most loved—-historical landmarks.

After a fire broke and destroyed a great portion of the Palace of Westminster in 1834, the design for a new palace included plans for a humongous clock tower. Although most clockmakers in those days thought it would be impossible, Astronomer Royal George Airy, with the help of a barrister named Edmund Beckett Denison and E.J. Dent & Co., made Big Ben a reality.

It’s surprising how a clock this big could be so accurate. Big Ben is known not only as a tourist attraction, but also for its reliable clock movement. The clock makes use of double three-legged gravity escapement that provides superb clock mechanism.

Check out awesome photos of Big Ben below, taken by our community members.

If you’re visiting London and you want to hear Big Ben, don’t bother to sneak into palace to listen to it. It actually sounds better from the outside, while you take souvenir photos.

Like this article? Check out more stories from our Today in History and Throwback Thursday series.

written by jillytanrad

1 comment

  1. orangebird

    orangebird

    Great!!

    11 months ago · report as spam