Accuracy is the politeness of kings. In London, this saying is particularly important. In the British capital city of several hundred dials are properly only one clock – the tower of Big Ben, which is part of the architectural ensemble of the Palace of Westminster (known as Parliament among people).Traditionally the tower or mounted thereon clockwork are called Big Ben, but actually the huge bell in the clock is called so. Big Ben has an official name – “Clock Tower of the Palace of Westminster.” The history of the main chimes of London dates back to the 1840s, when the architect Charles Barry, busy with reconstruction of old buildings of Westminster decided to attach to the palace clock tower. Parliament agreed to give money for the construction of clocks, but under the condition that they will be the most accurate clocks in the UK, and the ringing will be heard around the capital. The design of the clock tower was designed by world-famous master of neo-Gothic – Augustus Pyudzhin. The height of Big Ben reaches 96 meters. The brick tower, topped by a spire and lined colored limestone, mounted on 15-meter concrete foundation.
At a height of 55 meters they left place for watch dials that was also designed by O. Pyudzhin. The dial consists of 312 pieces of opal glass, with 7-meter high steel frame, the edges of which are gilded. Clock hands length is 2.7 meters is made of iron, and minute hand is 4.2 meters in length is made of copper. Inside the tower, under the clock room there is a 300-pound pendulum and mechanism weighing 5 tons. For a long time, London was considered as having the largest dial in the world until this record was beat by the clock, placed on the building of the company “Allen Bradley” in Wisconsin, USA. But the Americans did not add chimes to this cock, so the Big Ben still holds first place in the nomination “The largest four-sided clock with chimes.”
Chime is made by bell, located inside the tower. This is the Big Ben. Master Edmund Beckett Denison was occupied with bells casting process. He decided that his work should surpass the 10-ton bell in New York (“Peter the Great”) and cast bell weighing 16 tons. To do this, Denison has changed the traditional recipe and the shape of the casting alloy products.
In the presence of a large audience bell solemnly brought in a cart drawn by 16 horses. But two months later, the bell cracked and they had to cast the new bell weighting 13.7 tons and the weight of the hammer, to strike it was reduce by half. The second bell cracked again, but this time they decided just to repair making square saw cut, that could prevent cracks spreading, and the Big Ben itself was launched a quarter turn for the hammer does not hit damaged crack. On the 31st of May, 1859 Big Ben struck for the first time spreading its resonant chime all over London.
For the past 150 years, Big Ben in London strikes properly every hour, and surrounding small bells help the main bell. Together all bells play a melody of Cambridge chimes, beating the rhythm of the following words: “At this hour the Lord saves me, and his power will not give it to anybody to stumble.” The first blow of the hammer bell coincides exactly with the first second of the hour. And if Big Ben suddenly decides to be late, then a coin – an old English penny is put on its pendulum. This coin helps to accelerates the clock at 2.5 seconds per day. Putting or removing a coin caretaker ensures the accuracy of the five-ton machine. However, once the clock was one second slow. so the superintendent was almost resigned. Every two days, they check and lubricate the mechanism. The base of each of the four dials has an inscription in Latin: “God save our Queen Victoria I». It is a kind of tribute to the Empress, who ruled the country for over 63 years; it was in the Victorian era when the British Empire reached its peak.
But the bell Big Ben is named after Lord Benjamin Hall. The British say that during the parliament session devoted to discussion of the bell’s name, sir Hall said the longest, boring speech. And suddenly some joker called out: “Call the bell Big Ben, and finish finally with this hopeless affair!”. An explosion of laughter that mean unanimous agreement was heard in the House of Lords. In fact Sir Hall had a solid big figure and spoke loud bass, due to which he got the nickname Big Ben. According to another version, the clock wasn’t named after the Lord, but its the name was gives after famous heavyweight boxer of that time. In 1920s with the invention of radio Big Ben has become known throughout the world. Every hour BBC radio station broadcasts the clock strike live. In London, tourists are allowed to observe the striking of a clock just outside. Visitors aren’t allowed to get inside the clock tower where the parliament meets, in order to avoid the terrorist threat. Only the citizens of London and titled persons can go up the spiral staircase of 334 steps and see the interior clock and bell.
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