Today in History: Big Ben Rings Out!

| May 31, 2017

170529_news_219x365If you are walking around Westminster, London at high noon, you will still be in for the sound; you can’t help but stop and listen to the loud, symbolic chimes of one of the greatest clock bells in the world — Big Ben made all the more remarkable in the digital age, where we have come to expect accuracy and precision of time told on our digital, portable devices.

Did you know that Big Ben, the iconic London clock tower, went into operation for the first time on May 31st, 1859? Designed by Edmund Beckett Denison and built E.J. Dent & Co, the clock tower had four faces, each 23 feet across, and a bell weighing in at more than 13 tons. So heavy was the clock’s bell that it was transported to Westminster by a team of sixteen horses, and was found not to withstand the heavier weight of the striker. The massive bell cracked within two months of use, and earned a new and lighter hammer that could be applied to all the bell’s surfaces.

Despite its long-standing and infamous crack, Big Ben functions to this day — a beloved feat, where science and design wed — clock and bell seen as one by many.

The following articles are selected from Proquest Historical Newspapers, which informs and inspires classroom teaching and learning.

Tip:

Listen to Big Ben striking 12!

Read more about the history of Big Ben from the U.K. Living Heritage, Houses of Parliament.

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