Big Ben Strikes 12 Midday
This short clip shows one of the major icons of London, Big Ben as it strikes 12. Big Ben’s big moment is on New Year Eve where the chimes at midnight are the cue for the traditional firework display to bring in the new year in style. For the British the chimes are used as the introduction to the main TV news programmes with the newcaster reading out the headlines of the day between the chimes.
Big Ben is part of the clock tower of Westminster Palace, more commonly knowns as the Hoses of Parliament where the UK government sits and legislates from. Big Ben itself is actually the nickname of the bell housed within the Clock Tower – and Big Ben’s official name is the Great Bell. Nearly all visitors to London will pass Big Ben at least once and for most people it will be one of the images of London you retain many years after.
Looking at Big Ben you might think that it is very old, perhaps as old as Westminster Abbey opposite. Big Ben in fact was completed in 1859 after the old Westminster Palace was destroyed by fire. The tower is 96.3 metres (316 ft) high, equivalent to a 16 floor building.
Not many people realise that there are free tours of Big Ben three times a day that are free. However they are only available to UK citizens and the waiting list is months. There is also no lift!
There are two possible explanations for the Big Ben’s name:
– It could have been named after Sir Benjamin Hall, the First Commissioner of Works, who was a tall man and known in the House of Commons as Big Ben.
– It may have been named after a champion heavyweight boxer of the time called Ben Caunt. He fought his last fight in 1857 when it was being decided what to call the bell.
Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament are by the River Thames. Westminster Abbey and the London Eye are all with a few hundred yards walk. Westminster Underground is the other side of the road from Big Ben.
Below are two clip’s. The first is Bob’s from Westminster Bridge taken at midday from Westminster Bridge. The quality of sound is compromised by the traffic across the bridge so I’ve put an offical clip below it with much better sound quality.