Posts Tagged ‘Big Ben’

Winner: Rosebud, with the Driver, and SchaeferMan far behind and Mistress Daphne looking for some screen time.

This one was over before it started. Nobody was close to Rosebud tonight. The Driver, who lived in the Netherlands for a while, missed the question “what is the capital of the Netherlands.” He swears they must’ve moved the capital since he was there. More likely he just spent too much time in the coffee shops smoking cannabis.

Good Question!: What stopped in London at 3:45 on August 5, 1975?  (actually 1976)

Choices: a. all traffic   b. changing of the guard   c. Big Ben   d. Parliament


Answer: Big Ben, of course

The clock in the clock tower of the houses of Parliament is one of the most recognizable of London’s landmarks. The clock and the clocktower are commonly and inaccurately referred to as Big Ben. Big Ben is actually just the name of the clock’s largest bell and not the clock itself, nor the tower.

When the clock was first built over 150 years ago it was designed to be one of the most accurate clocks in the world – accurate to one second on the first strike of the hour.

Most everyone got this right, except for Pluto, who missed all the easy questions tonight. Most wondered why it stopped at that moment. Was it commemorating some event?

5 August 1976: Big Ben breaks down for the first time in 117 years

“The Great Westminster Clock, AKA Big Ben, has been one of London’s most famous sights for over 100 years. Its familiar chimes ring out on the quarter hour, and every hour it strikes with extraordinary accuracy.

The secret to its great accuracy is its “double three-legged gravity escapement”, which isolates the pendulum from external influences, such as the effect of wind on its heavy hands – each minute hand weighs 100kg, and each hour hand weighs 300kg. At five tonnes, the clock was – and remains – one of the largest mechanical clocks in the world.

It was completed in 1854, at a cost of £2,500. However, the tower to house it wasn’t ready for another five years. So it wasn’t until 31 May 1859, that the clock finally began ticking.

After that, all went well for over a century, until around 3:45AM on this day in 1976. A policeman on duty in the Palace of Westminster heard a “thud”. He called the engineers, who raced up to the clockroom. When they got there, they were met with a scene of complete devastation. There was metal everywhere – on the floor, embedded in the walls and punching holes in the ceiling. It looked like the clock was ruined.

Fatigue in the century-old metal had caused a sudden fracture in the chiming mechanism, which sent the flywheel and huge chunks of metal spinning around the clockroom, smashing the clock to pieces. Big Ben was silenced.

Local clockmakers Thwaites & Reed – who had tendered unsuccessfully to build the original clock – were called in to repair it. And after nine months of work, the clock was restarted on 9 May 1977.” (moneyweek.com)

BTW, don’t plan on visiting Big Ben right now. Big Ben has fallen silent for major repair work expected to last until 2021.

For the top 5 movie scenes featuring the gargantuan timepiece, try this article.

The trailer for one of these movies looks pretty good:



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