Page last updated at 22:02 GMT, Saturday, 11 July 2009 23:02 UK

Big Ben rings in 150th birthday

Big Ben
It took 30 hours to winch Big Ben into the tower's belfry

A giant birthday message has been projected on to Parliament's clock tower to mark 150 years since the first ringing of Big Ben.

The Great Bell struck its first hour on 11 July 1859 and a year of celebrations is taking place for the anniversary.

The message reading "Happy Birthday Big Ben, 150 years, 1859 - 2009," was beamed on to the tower after sunset.

Other activities celebrating Big Ben have been organised by the Guy Fox History Project charity.

Over the next 12 months children and volunteers will explore the clock tower and research its history.

After 150 years, Big Ben still holds a special place in the hearts of Londoners and the world
Mike McCann
Keeper of the Great Clock

The clock tower at the Palace of Westminster was completed in 1859 and quickly became the most recognisable part of architect Charles Barry's building, which replaced the old Parliament after it burned down in 1834.

But the bell itself has at times had a troubled history.

The first bell cracked under testing two years before the tower was built and its replacement only lasted two months before it also cracked.

For the following four years Big Ben remained silent until repairs and modifications were made.

Since then, it has been damaged by such diverse elements as the weather, workmen and birds, but remains one of the most famous symbols of the UK.

Mike McCann, Keeper of the Great Clock, said: "After 150 years, Big Ben still holds a special place in the hearts of Londoners and the world as a magnificent example of engineering and building genius."

Advertisement

Inside the clock tower of Big Ben



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Children mark Big Ben's 150 years
10 Apr 08 |  London
Big Ben 'UK's favourite landmark'
09 Apr 08 |  London
Big Ben tours resume after repair
16 Oct 07 |  London
Time stands still
09 Aug 07 |  Magazine
Clockwatcher faces testing time
07 Apr 06 |  London
In Pictures: New icons of England
27 Apr 06 |  In Pictures

RELATED BBC LINKS

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2016 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific