Big Ben

Discussion in 'Tower, Monumental & Street Clocks' started by doc_fields, May 29, 2009.

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  1. doc_fields

    doc_fields Registered User

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  2. Kevin W.

    Kevin W. Registered User
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    I read today that very soon, i think this weekend is the Birthday of Big Ben.150 years young, :Party::Party::Party:
     
  3. doug sinclair

    doug sinclair Registered User

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    #3 doug sinclair, May 30, 2009
    Last edited: May 30, 2009
    Kevin,

    The Great Clock in the Parliament Buildings at Westminster has the frame embossed in gilded letters stating- " This Clock Was Made in the Year of Our Lord 1854 By Frederick Dent of the Strand and the Royal Exchange, Clockmaker to the Queen, From the Designs of Edmund Beckett Denison" The first Big Ben (the big bell, not the clock) cracked after a few weeks in the tower. The Whitechapel Bell Foundry was commissioned to supply a new set of bells. The second Big Ben (the one presently in the tower) was cast in 1856. I would be interested to learn how someone calculates that "Big Ben" is 150 years old, when the clock is 155 years old, and the bell, 153.
     
  4. itspcb

    itspcb Registered User
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    The movement for the Westminster clock was finished and working in Dent's works early 1853. But in a tale familiar to us all, the clock tower was not ready having been deemed to be increased in height. The clock was installed in March 1859 after the bells were in place. The clock was going on 31 May 1859 and it is this date which is regarded as the 'In service' date, that is givng a time service to the people of London. Big Ben first struck in July 1859 and the quarters in September. By end 1859 defects were found in Big Ben bell and the clock ceased to chime from end 1859 until 1863.

    So Sunday 31 May is the 150th anniversary of the first operation of the clock at Westminster Palace. The celebration of the bell Big Ben is a little later. Although the development of Big Ben was a troublesome path.

    It was serviced by Dent until 1971, then Thwaites and Reed took over.

    The above is taken from John Dent and his Successors by Vaudrey Mercer. This book contains two chapters relating to the clock.There is also more about the bells in A Rudimentary Treatise on Clocks and Watches and Bells by Denison.

    Peter
     
  5. jmclaugh

    jmclaugh Registered User

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    Yep the 150 anniversary of the clock being in service is tomorrow and 11 July is the anniversary of the first time Big Ben was heard.

    http://www.bigben.parliament.uk/
     
  6. laprade

    laprade Registered User

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    This section is a strange place to put this thread. I came upon it by accident.

    In a thread on a "Garrards" clock, Big Ben was discussed, as to where the tune came from. I short-listed it down to the architect who was born in Westminster and was a student in Cambridge. The church of Saint Mary's in Cambridge had adopted the 4 note sequence after much squabbling and that is where he took a fancy to it and chose it for the new clock at the palace of Westminster
     
  7. Brian O

    Brian O Registered User

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    There's an interesting article here by the American Press service about Big Ben's 150th anniversary, its history and its special meaning to Londoners.
     
  8. doug sinclair

    doug sinclair Registered User

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    I am glad to know more about the background of the Great Clock. It makes sense there would be some lag time between the casting of the frame, and the actual installation of the clock. Same with the bells. I have been hearing on our local news that this anniversry was celebrated this week end. I've had the pleasure of seeing this clock during two NAWCC sponsored trips to Great Britain as arranged by Phillip Priestley. Impressive! On two occasions, I had the pleasure of standing within 6 feet of Big Ben as it struck noon! An experience everyone should enjoy at least once!
     
  9. harold bain

    harold bain Registered User
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    I am moving this thread down to the tower clock forum for better exposure.
     
  10. doug sinclair

    doug sinclair Registered User

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    The tune is from Handel's "Messiah". Google Westminster chime;

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westminster_Quarters

    On the wall of a mezzanine in the stairwell of the Great Clock is a sign that attests to this fact. The words are:

    "All Through This Hour
    Lord be my Guide
    That by Thy Power
    No Foot Shall Slide"

    Music From Handel's Messiah

    No need for me to go into further detail. The story is there for those who are interested.
     
  11. le arsi

    le arsi Registered User

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    That was the most beautiful video I've ever seen for a famous tower clock. Thank you very much I've always dreamed of seeing the Big Ben in person and the virtual video is amazing! Thank you very very much.:)
     
  12. itspcb

    itspcb Registered User
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    #12 itspcb, Jun 2, 2009
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2009
    All
    There is a sketch (and you may learn, yes it does include the double three legged gravity escapement) of 15 minutes on BBC Radio 4 giving the history of Big Ben.
    You may have to install BBC iPlayer but (to me) its worth it.
    You need to scroll forward to the 45 minute mark of the one hour piece.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00kmz3v/Westminster_Hour_31_05_2009/

    (Sorry for the phoney american accents!)

    Peter
     
  13. FDelGreco

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    I’ve had the pleasure of climbing Westminster tower three times in the last 11 years – 1998, 2000, and 2007 to see the great clock and Big Ben.

    You need to know someone in Parliament (or someone who knows someone in Parliament, as we did), to take the tour. A maximum of 16 are allowed on a tour; a 17th is not permitted.

    It’s getting harder and harder to take the tour. In 1998, a group of us walked to the tower and waited for the prearranged tour guide to show up. We were allowed to take pictures. In 2007, we had to go through a metal detector, and all of our personal possessions were x-rayed. No photos were allowed.

    Tours are timed so you can hear the clock chime at 11:45AM and strike at 12 noon. Once in the clock room, the tour splits in two, with one group remaining in the clock room just before 11:45AM to watch the clock chime, while the other half of the group stands in the bell room next to the bells to get the “full audio effect” as the clock chimes. Then the groups switch. I was lucky to be in the first group – so at 12 noon on October 25, 2000, I stood eight feet (just outside its wire cage) from Big Ben when it struck the noon hour. My teeth rattled.

    What an experience! And what an experience to have done this three times. If you are down in the clock room whenever the clock chimes, the governor fans are so large that you feel the wind.

    Frank Del Greco
     
  14. le arsi

    le arsi Registered User

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    Thanks Frank for the elaboration, as if I can feel also what you felt out there.
     
  15. John Hubby

    John Hubby Senior Administrator Emeritus
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    Frank, thanks for the graphic description. I've only done the tour once, with the same group you were with in October 2000. It is an awesome experience to say the least! I'm sad to hear that all the world strife and security problems have placed so many restrictions now including the "no photos" rule. I certainly do treasure the ones I took back then.
     
  16. Frank Menez

    Frank Menez Registered User
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    During the 1960s a tour of Big Ben could be arranged through the British Horological Institute. The Secy of the BHI Frank West arranged a tour for myself and four other members of the Ipswich Branch of the BHI. I do not know if the BHI still arranges tours for their members.
     
  17. laprade

    laprade Registered User

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    Of all the images of Big Ben, none will ever beat (pardon the pun) the scenes from the film: THE THIRTY-NINE STEPS,
     
  18. clockhoarder

    clockhoarder Registered User

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    Ahhh the original version of the thirty-nine steps......filmed in London?
     
  19. chimeclockfan

    chimeclockfan Registered User
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  20. Les harland

    Les harland Registered User

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    The Whitechapel Bell foundry also cast the original American Liberty Bell
     
  21. laprade

    laprade Registered User

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    If you ever go to London, pay the foundry a visit. I used to get my bells from them direct.

    Clockhoarder: sorry for the delay: yes the B&W original.

    I've just googled the foundry: in the news section, there are some great shots of Betty and Phill being shown round. She's wearing well for 85!
     

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