Big Ben is 150 Today

By | Category: Travel rumblings

Walk across Westminster Bridge in London and at some stage you will be barred by a tourist taking a picture of the tall building that houses Big Ben, the bell that everyone hears at some stage in their lives. .Be it on HP sauce bottles, the opening credits of the old London Films, BBC news or a host of other services, the use of the building immediately tells the world it is related to London. To use that much overused word, it is iconic. As one tourist that was interviewed said, it is to London as the Eiffel tower is to Paris, the Opera house is to Sydney and the Statue of Liberty is to New York.
So you’ll have seen the publicity proclaiming that the bell, Big Ben itself, is 150 years old today.
Is it really or is this a convenient day?
A bell was cast in August 1856, tested until October 1857 when a crack appeared in the bell that was over 3 foot long. A new bell was cast in April 1858 and took 30 hours to hoist it from the ground up to its resting position in October 1858. It first rang from its present position on 11 July 1859 but cracked in September and didn’t ring again till 1863. Some say it is that crack that gives it the distinctive sound. One of the four bells that ring the quarter hours was used instead.
So whether it is 150 or 151 doesn’t matter. If it weren’t around there would be one very substantial fewer tourist draw. And whilst the building features in all the drawings, paintings and photographs it is this one bell inside it that attracts the visitors.

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