Who is Really Big Ben?

Who is Really Big Ben?

Imagen panorámica de la bahía de Westminster y el Big Ben
Foto de Dominika Gregušová de Pexels

As LOMLOE is here to stay, I think it’ll be a good idea providing you with some interesting cultural tips to be used in classroom projects. Honestly, these presentations have worked pretty well in my first approaches to LOMLOE teaching plans and, anyway, they’re always a good way to refer to several British landmarks that have been commonly attractive to European citizens.

Technically, Big Ben is the name given to the massive bell inside the clock tower, which weighs more than 13 tons (13,760 kg). Don’t get confused with the building that lodges it (Houses of Parliament) or the tower that holds it (Elizabeth Tower).

The origin of the name Big Ben is not known, although two different theories exist. The first is that is was named after Sir Benjamin Hall, the first commissioner of works, a large man who was known affectionately in the house as «Big Ben». The second theory is that it was named after a heavyweight boxing champion at that time, Benjamin Caunt. Also known as «Big Ben», this nickname was commonly bestowed in society to anything that was the heaviest in its class.

The Big Ben Tower is 96 meters high, and is the third tallest clock tower in the world. It is visible from practically anywhere in the historic center of London. His four clocks are of identical measurements. 7 meters in diameter, the hour hand measures 2.7 meters. The minute one measures 4.3 meters and weighs almost 100 kilos.

It is necessary to climb 334 steps to crown Big Ben. However, it is not easy, only the British can do it, for whom it is free. Only a few tours a year are organized, it requires a few months of preparation, making an advance request to Parliament,… and an appointment is usually made for months later. Some news suggests that the visit could be paid for in the near future, although we do not know if this will influence the access of foreigners.

Each side is made up of a 7-meter iron structure made up of 312 pieces of glass that create a kind of stained-glass window. All four clock faces bear the same Latin inscription in brass letters: “Domine Salvam Fac Reginam Nostram Vicotiam Primam” (“God save our Queen Victoria the First”).

Big Ben is, pardon the digitals, the most accurate clock ever built. So much so that the Queen proclaimed its designer, Edmund Beckett Denison, Lord. Not even the horrors of World War II could stop him. However, he succumbed to a 2005 heat wave that exposed him to a temperature of 31 degrees. Very punctual, but our dear friend would not survive a summer in Seville.

As if it were the Tower of Pisa, Big Ben is also twisting. Experts have discovered that it suffers a tilt of 46 centimeters, and that the Parliament is also sinking. A hecatomb. However, it would take 4,000 years for the tilt of this tower to be comparable to that of Pisa. Our eyes will not see it.

These are the facts, let us put them now in a Kahoot or impress presentation, a good sample for our students to work on reading comprehension and speaking skills.

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