Big Ben / Elizabeth Tower

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Big Ben / Elizabeth Tower

Big Ben is the nickname for the Great Bell of the striking clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster (map), although the name is frequently extended to also refer to the clock and the clock tower (map).

The official name of the tower in which Big Ben is located was originally the Clock Tower, but it was renamed Elizabeth Tower in 2012, to mark the *Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom.

When completed in 1859, its clock was the largest and most accurate four-faced striking and chiming clock in the world. The tower stands 316 feet (96 m) tall.

+ More information > WikipediaWikivoyageUNESCO
Official website
+ TOURIST INFORMATION > UNITED KINGDOMENGLAND > LONDON

The tower is a British cultural icon recognised all over the world. It is one of the most prominent symbols of the United Kingdom, and it is often used in the establishing shot of films set in London.

All four nations of the UK are represented on the tower in shields featuring a rose for England, thistle for Scotland, shamrock for Northern Ireland, and leek for Wales.

The clock’s movement is famous for its reliability. On top of the pendulum is a small stack of old penny coins; these are to adjust the time of the clock. Adding a coin has the effect of minutely lifting the position of the pendulum’s centre of mass, reducing the effective length of the pendulum rod and hence increasing the rate at which the pendulum swings. Adding or removing a penny will change the clock’s speed by 0.4 seconds per day. It keeps time to within a few seconds per week.

12 August 1949: The clock slowed by four and a half minutes after a flock of starlings perched on the minute hand.

Public transport

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TRANSPORT FOR LONDON – is a government organisation responsible for all public transport. Their website contains maps plus an excellent journey planner. The Underground is the oldest underground railway network in the world. (+ Connections map)

CityMapper – London | The ultimate transport app and technology for mobility in cities.

+ Getting around (visitlondon.com) • Transport (london.gov.uk) • Travel to and around England (visitengland.com)

TRAVELINE | Provides online travel planner services for all public transportation across Great Britain. They also have separate planners dedicated to specific regions.

 BUS >   National Express | UK Stop finder

 RAIL >   The essential source for rail travel information in Great Britain is the National Rail website. It includes an extremely useful journey planner, ticket prices and detailed information about every railway station in the country. (*Rail travel in Great Britain).

 AIRPORTS >   airportguides.co.uk. The most important airports are London HeathrowLondon Gatwick and Manchester Airport. All three have multiple terminals and are collectively served by a vast range of airlines and flights from the four corners of the map.

 WATERWAYS >   River boat services on the Thames known as Thames Clippers, which offers both commuter and tourist boat services. + River Transport Services. There are many ferry routes into the UK from continental Europe. (*Ferry routes to Great Britain)

Bicycles may be taken on car ferries and on Eurotunnel shuttle trains. Eurostar allows folding bikes on all its trains, and offers a more restricted service for other bikes, but has quite strict and specific rules that are worth reading up on before you travel.

Useful links

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