Big Ben Facts for Kids – Complete Facts About Big Ben

August 24, 2017
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13 mins read
big ben clock

Big Ben is the famous clock tower of London and one of the most visited tourists spot in England. We have gathered a complete set of Big Ben Facts for Kids that will give a complete overview of this amazing clock tower to the kids. We have tried to answer all questions that may arise in the curious little minds about this tower. You are going to learn about its name, real name, why it is famous, location, the clock, dimensions, weight, architecture, history, power source, renovations, and many other interesting Big Ben Facts.

Big Ben Facts for Kids

What is Big Ben

Big Ben is the name popularly given to the Great Bell of the Clock located in the Elizabeth Tower, which stands in Westminster, London. While the official name of Big Ben refers specifically to the Great Bell, the term is commonly used to denote both the clock and the tower itself. The construction of this iconic landmark was completed in 1859. Originally, the tower was known simply as the Clock Tower, but in 2012, its official name was changed to Elizabeth Tower in honor of the diamond jubilee of Elizabeth II, marking a significant moment in the tower’s history. This change reflects the tower’s importance and the celebration of a monumental milestone for the British monarchy.

big ben facts for kids

Why is Big Ben called Big Ben – Who is Big Ben named after

The origin of the name “Big Ben” remains a mystery, having been adopted by Londoners until it became the universally recognized moniker for the Great Bell. Despite the uncertainty surrounding its origins, there are speculations that the name could have been inspired by one of two notable figures. One possibility is Sir Benjamin Hall, who was the First Commissioner of Works and played a pivotal role in overseeing the installation of the Great Bell. Another potential namesake is Benjamin Caunt, a heavyweight boxing champion who was also affectionately known as “Big Ben.” These two personalities are often cited in discussions about the historical naming of this iconic bell.

Big Ben Real Name

Technically, the term “Big Ben” specifically refers to the Great Bell housed within the Elizabeth Tower. However, it is common practice to refer to both the Elizabeth Tower and the Great Bell collectively as Big Ben in everyday conversation. Despite this common usage, the official name of the tower is Elizabeth Tower, while the bell itself is officially known as the Great Bell. This distinction highlights the difference between popular terminology and official nomenclature, illustrating how colloquial names can often overshadow formal titles in public discourse.

Why is Big Ben Famous

Big Ben is a famous clock in London known for telling time very accurately and having a really big bell. People think it became super famous during a big, important war called the Second World War. During this time, its ringing sound was shared with people all over the world through the radio by the BBC World Service. After scary attacks, everyone would listen closely to the radio, waiting to hear Big Ben’s rings. When they heard the bell, it meant something very special: it meant that Great Britain was still strong and hadn’t been beaten. So, Big Ben’s bell wasn’t just about telling time; it was a sign of hope and courage for many people.

Importance of Big Ben

Big Ben is a super famous clock in London and is one of the places people love to visit the most. Tourists from all over the world come to see it every day of the year, no matter if it’s sunny, raining, or snowing! Besides being really popular, Big Ben is also amazing at keeping time. It’s like the best kind of watch you can imagine, but much, much bigger! So, Big Ben is not just important because it looks cool, but it also helps everyone know exactly what time it is.

Big Ben isn’t just any clock; it’s like the star of the show when it comes to celebrating the New Year in the UK! When the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, Big Ben’s chimes ring out loud and clear, and everyone listens. It’s a special moment that signals the start of a brand new year. People all over the country, and even around the world, tune in on their radios or TVs just to hear those famous bongs. It’s as if Big Ben is throwing the biggest New Year’s party and inviting everyone to join in. The sound of Big Ben ringing in the new year is a sign of hope, excitement, and the promise of a fresh start. So, when you hear those chimes, you know it’s time to celebrate and look forward to all the fun and adventures the new year will bring!

Where is Big Ben located

Big Ben is located at the north end of the Palace of Westminster in London. Its address is:
Westminster, London SW1A 0AA, UK

Big Ben Description

The Great Bell

The Great Bell, which is part of Big Ben, is super heavy, weighing more than 13 tons—that’s as heavy as about 200 grown-ups! It’s also really tall, about as tall as a giraffe, at 2.28 meters, and it’s wider than a car, measuring 2.75 meters across. When it rings, it’s so loud that if you were standing close to it, you could feel the ringing not just with your ears but with your whole body shaking! The bell is made out of tin and copper, which are types of metal, and this mix makes it very strong. Its color is mostly grey, but if you look closely, you’ll see some green spots on it, kind of like a very old coin.

big ben the great bell

The Clock

The big clock that everyone calls Big Ben actually has a special name: it’s called the Great Westminster Clock. Inside this clock, there are three special sets of gears, kind of like the gears on a bike, but for different things:

  1. The Going Train – This is what makes the clock’s hands move around so we can tell the time.
  2. The Chiming Train – This part is responsible for making the clock go “ding dong” every 15 minutes, so we know a quarter of an hour has passed.
  3. The Striking Train – This is what makes the big bell, Big Ben, ring loudly every hour on the hour.

The clock works with the help of gravity. It has heavy weights tied to cables, and engineers have to wind these cables up three times a week. As gravity pulls the weights down, the gears start moving, and the clock tells time!

The hands of the clock are really big and heavy.

  • The hour hand is almost as long as a car, 2.7 meters, and weighs as much as three big refrigerators, 300 kg!
  • The minute hand is even longer, 4.2 meters, but it’s lighter, weighing as much as a small motorcycle, 100 kg.
  • Each number you see on the clock’s face is as tall as a grown-up’s bike, 2 feet.

The whole mechanism that makes the clock work is as heavy as an elephant, weighing 5 tons. To keep everything running smoothly, the clock is wound up three times a week.

And guess what? The clock has four faces, one on each side of the Elizabeth Tower, so no matter where you are, you can look up and see the time. Isn’t that cool?

big ben clock

Elizabeth Tower (The Clock Tower)

The Elizabeth Tower, where Big Ben lives, is designed in a special style called Gothic Revival. This means it looks a bit like the castles and fairy tale towers you see in storybooks, with lots of fancy details and tall, pointed shapes. The tower is really tall, stretching up to the sky at 315 feet, which is almost as tall as a football field is long!

The clock faces, where you can see the time, are way up high, 180 feet above the ground. That’s like stacking about 30 grown-ups on top of each other! If you wanted to visit the top of the Elizabeth Tower, you’d have to be ready for a big adventure, climbing up 334 steps made of limestone. That’s a lot of steps—more than most buildings have!

Even though it might not look like it from the ground, the tower doesn’t stand perfectly straight. It leans a little bit toward the northwest, but don’t worry, it’s supposed to do that.

Underneath each of the four clocks, there’s a special message written in Latin: “DOMINE SALVAM FAC REGINAM NOSTRAM VICTORIAM PRIMAM.” This means “O Lord, keep safe our Queen Victoria the First.” It’s a way of showing respect and asking for protection for Queen Victoria, who was the queen when the tower was built. So, every time you look at Big Ben, there’s a little piece of history right there!

How big is Big Ben – Big Ben dimensions

Big Ben stands on a piece of land that’s about as big as a small classroom, covering 40 feet square. Imagine stacking up about 50 grown-ups, and that’s how tall Big Ben is, reaching up to 315 feet into the sky! Inside, it’s super spacious, with enough room to fit about 9,000 bathtubs, since its inner volume is 164,200 cubic feet.

The clock faces, where you see the time, are way up high, about as high as an 18-story building, at 54.9 meters above the ground. And each of the clock faces, found on all four sides of the tower, is as wide as a school bus is long, measuring 23 feet in diameter. So, no matter where you stand around Big Ben, you can look up and see the time on one of its huge clocks!

How tall is Big Ben – Height of Big Ben

Big Ben is 315 feet (96 meters) high.

Big Ben Clock Face Size

The clock faces on all four sides of the tower are 23 feet (7 meters) in diameter.

How much does Big Ben weigh – Big Ben Weight

Big Ben isn’t just famous for its loud chimes; it’s also really, really heavy! The Great Bell, which is the heart of Big Ben, weighs more than 13 tons. That’s as heavy as about 200 grown-ups combined!

Is Big Ben the biggest clock in the World

No, Big Ben is not the biggest clock in the world. The biggest clock in the world is the Mecca Clock.

What color is Big Ben

Big Ben (The Great Bell) is grey-ish with some green marks on its surface.

How old is Big Ben – Big Ben age

The Great Bell was cast in 1858, so it is 165 years old. Elizabeth Tower was opened in 1859, so it is 164 years old.

When was Big Ben built

The construction of Big Ben was finished and it was opened in 1859.

How long did it take to build Big Ben

They started building the clock tower in 1843, and it took a long time to finish. The clock was ready in 1854, but the big bell inside, which is also called Big Ben, didn’t ring for the first time until 1859. So, from the time they started building until the bell rang, it took about 16 years. Building Big Ben was a big project with lots of steps, like making the bell and putting everything together, and it wasn’t easy!

Why was Big Ben built – Big Ben’s purpose

The Palace of Westminster was ruined by an accidental fire in 1834. In 1835, it was decided that a tower and a clock should be included in the buildings built for the Houses of Parliament.

Who made Big Ben – Who designed Big Ben

Two English architects were responsible for building Big Ben and reviving the Castle of Westminster:

  • Augustus Pugin
  • Charles Barry

 Charles Barry                           Augustus Pugin

Charles Barry                                                               Augustus Pugin

What is Big Ben made of

Big Ben is like a giant tower made of different layers, kind of like a huge cake! The first part of Big Ben, up to about the height of 20 cars stacked on top of each other (that’s 61 meters), is made of bricks. But you can’t see the bricks because they are covered with a special stone called limestone, which gives it a nice, smooth look.

Above this height, Big Ben changes its outfit and wears a frame made of cast iron, which is a type of metal. This part looks a bit like a spire, which is a fancy word for a tower that points up into the sky.

Now, let’s talk about what’s under the ground holding Big Ben up. It stands on a huge square base, like a giant raft, that’s about as wide as a small house (15.2 meters square). This base is made of concrete, a super strong material, and it’s really thick—about as tall as your dad is high (3 meters)! And this big, strong base sits 4 meters below the ground, so you can’t see it, but it’s there, making sure Big Ben doesn’t tip over.

Big Ben History

A long time ago, there was a big castle called the Castle of Westminster, but in 1834, it was destroyed by a huge fire. The next year, people decided to build a new tower with a clock on it to make the castle look grand again. This new tower was designed to look like something from a fairy tale, called Gothic Style, by two men named Augustus Pugin and Charles Barry.

They started building Big Ben, the name of the tower’s big clock, in 1843. A man named Edward John Dent was chosen to make the clock super special, but he passed away, so his son finished the job instead. The first big bell they made for the clock didn’t work out because it cracked, so they had to make another one.

Finally, after many years, in 1859, Big Ben was all finished. The clock began to tell time in May of that year, and the new, big bell rang out loud for the first time on July 11, 1859. During a very scary time called World War II, they didn’t light up Big Ben’s clock faces at night so that enemy planes couldn’t see it.

Big Ben needed some fixing over the years, like in 1876 for nine months and again in 2007 for seven weeks. In 2012, they changed the name of the Clock Tower to Elizabeth Tower to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s 60 years as queen.

Then, on August 14, 2014, it was announced that Big Ben would need to be quiet for a while, from August 21, 2017, until 2021, so they could fix it up and make sure it keeps working perfectly. Fixing it was going to cost a lot of money, more than $42 million! So, Big Ben has had quite the adventure over the years, from being built to being fixed, all to make sure it keeps ticking and telling time for everyone to see.

How does Big Ben work

The Great Clock on Elizabeth Tower, where Big Ben lives, works using a really cool force called gravity—the same thing that keeps us on the ground and not floating up into the sky! Inside the clock, there are three special groups of gears, kind of like the gears on a bike, but they do different things:

  1. The Going Train – This group of gears is in charge of moving the clock’s hands around so you can tell what time it is.
  2. The Chiming Train – These gears make the clock go “ding dong” every 15 minutes, so you know when a quarter of an hour has passed.
  3. The Striking Train – This set makes the big bell, Big Ben, ring out loud every hour on the hour.

The clock uses heavy weights tied to cables to work. Imagine holding a heavy backpack; gravity pulls it down, right? It’s the same with these weights. Engineers, who are like clock doctors, wind up these cables three times a week. As gravity pulls the weights down, the gears start to move, and the clock tells time.

To keep everything ticking just right, these clock doctors come in three times a week to wind the clock up. This makes sure the Great Clock keeps working perfectly, telling time for everyone around.

Big Ben Power Source

Did you know that Big Ben keeps time ticking right with a little help from some coins? Yes, you heard that right! Inside the clock, there’s a special pendulum that swings back and forth to make sure Big Ben tells the time accurately. But here’s the coolest part: if the clock starts running a little fast or slow, the clockmakers can fix it by adding or removing coins on top of the pendulum. It’s like a magic trick! Just a few pennies can make Big Ben run perfectly on time. So, Big Ben doesn’t need batteries or electricity to keep it going, just some coins and the laws of physics. It’s pretty amazing how something so simple helps control one of the most famous clocks in the world!

How is Big Ben powered

The mechanism of the Great Clock is wound by hand, which powers the clock.

Big Ben Sound – Big Ben Chimes

  • The bells in Big Ben and their chiming times are:
    • Four Quarter Bells – Every quarter-hour (Different designs for different tunes)
    • The Great Bell – Every hour on the hour
  • The tune played by these bells is called Westminster Quarters.

When did Big Ben First Chime

The Big Ben first chimed on July 11, 1859.

Big Ben Repair – Big Ben Renovation

On 14 August 2017, it was announced that Big Ben will be silenced from 21 August 2017 for repairs and renovation. It will remain silent till 2021. During this renovation, a lift will be installed which will take visitors to the top of Big Ben. The repairs are estimated to cost more than $42 million.

How much is Big Ben Worth

It will cost around $200,000 to build Big Ben today.

Big Ben Tour

If you ever dream of visiting Big Ben, the famous clock in London, there’s a special way to do it. First, you need to ask a member of the House of Lords, kind of like asking a teacher if you can visit a special place in school. But, not everyone can go on this adventure. There are some important rules:

  1. You have to live in the UK. It’s like a special trip just for people who live there.
  2. You need to be older than 11 years old. So, if you’re in sixth grade or higher, you’re good to go!
  3. You must be strong enough to climb up 334 steps all by yourself, without any help. That’s like climbing up a mountain of stairs!
  4. If someone has a heart condition or if a lady is expecting a baby, they have to wait for another time to visit. It’s to keep them safe because climbing all those stairs can be really tough.
  5. And lastly, you have to wear sensible shoes. That means no flip-flops or slippery shoes. You need something good for climbing all those stairs!

So, if you fit all these rules and you’re ready for a big climb, visiting Big Ben could be a super cool adventure!

How many tourists visit Big Ben each year

Accurate information regarding the number of annual Big Ben visitors is unavailable. However, a rough estimate suggests that about 75,000 residents of the UK annually visit Big Ben.

big ben facts for kids

Can you go inside Big Ben

Yes, you can go inside Big Ben ONLY if you are a Resident of the UK and fall under certain strict criteria.

Big Ben Fun Facts

  • Only UK residents are allowed to visit Big Ben tower.
  • The four clock faces on Big Ben are 55 meters above the ground.
  • The Great Bell weighs more than 13 tons (13,760 kg).
  • The pendulum inside the clock:
    1. is 3.9 meters long
    2. weighs 300 kg
    3. beats every 2 seconds
  • Big Ben is the center of focus of New Year celebrations in the UK. Radio and TV stations tune to their chimes to welcome the new year.

Murad

Murad Ali Khan is a researcher, writer & editor, who believes in generating quality content. He leads an awesome team of high school students, teachers & IT graduates who helps him in creating & maintaining educational Websites & Apps.
When not tinkering on the web, Murad enjoys going on hikes, read Latest Science News, plays tennis & hangs out with his friends.

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