Big Ben - the hour bell at Westminster
Big Ben is the hour bell in the clock tower at the Palace of Westminter - the Houses of Parliament. The bell stands 7'6" high and is 9'0" in diameter. It weighs 13 tons 10 cwts 3 qtrs 15lbs (13,760 Kg). The bell is known worldwide as 'Big Ben'.
Big Ben was cast on Saturday 10th April 1858, but its story began more than twenty years earlier. On 16th October 1834, the Palace of Westminster was destroyed by fire. In 1844 Parliament decided that the new buildings for the Houses of Parliament, already under construction, should incorporate a tower and a clock. The Astronomer Royal, George Airy was appointed to draft a specification for the clock.
The largest bell ever cast in Britain up to that time had been 'Great Peter' at York Minster, weighing 10¾ tons. It was not surprising the bellfounders were wary of bidding for the contract to produce the new bell, particularly since Denison insisted on his own design for the shape of the 14 ton bell as well as his own recipe for the bell metal.
Big Ben remains the largest bell ever cast at Whitechapel. Visitors to the foundry pass through a full size profile of the bell that frames the main entrance as they enter the building. The original moulding gauge employed to form the mould used to cast Big Ben hung on the end wall of the foundry above the furnaces until the foundry closed in 2017.
Pictures & story courtesy of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry