Oldster's View

Fight Against Maturity

October, 14, 1858. Big Ben is placed in St. Stephen’s Tower

Today is the anniversary of the raising of the bell known as Big Ben to the top of the Westminster Tower.

Raising the bell 180 feet up the central shaft of the tower to the clock chamber took 18 hours, spread over two days. Eight men turned a giant windlass hauling a huge, purpose-built, 1,800-foot chain over huge drums. The chains lifted a timber cradle carrying the bell. Guide wheels that ran along restraining timbers within the tower kept the cradle from swinging back and forth…

Big Ben has tolled — and told — the hours for a century and a half, more or less, through peace and war, with very occasional interruptions for repairs, cleaning and a few weather-related malfunctions. The striking of the bell has been controlled by electric motor since 1912, but the clock itself is still hand-wound thrice weekly.

There is a lengthy compilation of newspaper articles from the time describing the manufacture, testing and moving of the bell at this link along with several pictures.

October 14, 2008 - Posted by | cool stuff, Great Things | ,

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