英语短文之我们的世界 第79期:大本钟

The Big Ben Clock

The Big Ben is located in the tower at the eastern end of the Houses of Parliament, Westminster, Greater London. It was designed by Edmund Beckett and Baron Grimthorpe.

The Big Ben is very famous throughout the world, but nobody really knows why it is called Big Ben. There are two hearsays about this. Some people say that it was named after Benjamin Caunt, a boxer, who was called Big Ben. More people believe it was called after Welshman, Sir Benjamin Hall. He was the commissioner of the work at the time of its installation in 1859.

A story was told that during a debate in the Commons on what to call the bell, Sir Benjamin was about to give his ideas when a MP who sat behind the front bench shouted, "Let's call it Big Ben!" Then this name came into being.

The bell hasn't gone through a smooth road since the beginning of its design. Because there was great disagreement about the design of the clock, it took fifteen years to build. In 1857, the bell was completed and tested on the ground, but a four-foot crack appeared and the bell had to be cast again. Finally, the clock started ticking on 31 May, 1859, and struck its first chime on 11, July.

Then in September, the bell cracked again. It was silent for four years but was eventually turned a quarter of a revolution. In this way, the crack was not under the striking hammer. Craftsmen made a square above the crack to stop it graving longer and it can still be seen today.

The Big Ben is famous not only for its 13-ton weight, but also for its accuracy which is a result of its precise mechanism. Even one extra penny's weight on the balance will cause a gain of two fifths of a second in twenty four hours. Although there have been several problem, the bell is still striking today. Its chimes can be heard all over the world on the B.B.C.

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