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Big Ben

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Big Ben
Big Ben is the nickname for the great bell of the clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster in London, and often extended to refer to the clock and the clock tower, officially named the Elizabeth Tower, as well. Elizabeth Tower holds the largest four-faced chiming clock in the world and is the third-tallest free-standing clock tower. The bell, first named 'Great Edward' and later known as 'Great Tom', struck on the hour. The tower was completed in 1858 and has become one of the most prominent symbols of both London and England.
The Clock Dials
The ornate decoration on the Elizabeth Tower's upper floors owes much to Augustus Welby Pugin's influence on the main architect, Sir Charles Barry. The two architects collaborated successfully on the Palace of Westminster's neo-Gothic style which is displayed to great effect on the clock dials. The hour figure of four o'clock is shown by the Roman numeral IV, rather than IIII, as is more commonly used on clock dials. Under each clock dial there is a Latin inscription carved in stone: "Domine Salvam fac Reginam nostrum Victoriam primam" which means "O Lord, save our Queen Victoria the First."
Significant of the Great Bell
The clock has become a symbol of the United Kingdom and London, particularly in the visual media. When a television or film-maker wishes to indicate a generic location in Britain, a popular way to do so is to show an image of the tower.
Malfunctions, breakdowns, and other outages
- 1916: for two years during World War I, the bells were silenced and the clock face darkened at night to prevent attack by German Zeppelins.
- 1 September 1939: although the bells continued to ring, the clock faces were darkened at night through World War II to prevent guiding Blitz pilots
- New Year's Eve 1962: The clock slowed due to heavy snow and ice on the long hands, causing the pendulum to detach from the clockwork.
- 5 August 1976: First and only major breakdown. The air brake speed regulator of the chiming mechanism broke after more than 100 years of torsional fatigue, causing the fully wound 4-ton weight to spin the winding drum out of the movement, causing a large amount of damage. The Great Clock was shut down for a total of 26 days over nine months – it was reactivated on 9 May 1977; this was its longest break in operation since it was built.
- 27 May 2005: the clock stopped at 10:07 pm local time, possibly due to hot weather; temperatures in London had reached an unseasonable 31.8 °C (90 °F). It restarted, but stopped again at 10:20 pm local time and remained still for about 90 minutes before restarting.
- 29 October 2005: the mechanism was stopped for about 33 hours so the clock and its chimes could be worked on. It was the lengthiest maintenance shutdown in 22 years.
- 7:00 a.m. 5 June 2006: The clock tower's "Quarter Bells" were taken out of commission for four weeks as a bearing holding one of the quarter bells was damaged from years of wear and needed to be removed for repairs.
- 11 August 2007: Start of 6-week stoppage for maintenance. Bearings in the clock's going train and the "great bell" striker were replaced, for the first time since installation. During the maintenance works, the clock was not driven by the original mechanism, but by an electric motor.
Despite being one of the world's most famous tourist attractions, the interior of the tower is not open to overseas visitors, though United Kingdom residents are able to arrange tours (well in advance) through their Member of Parliament. However, the tower has no lift, so those escorted must climb the 334 limestone stairs to the top.

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