The tower - often wrongly thought to be St Stephen's Tower - is known as the Clock Tower and stands at the north-eastern end of the Palace of Westminster. It stands at 316 feet while St Stephen's is a much smaller tower that stands at the front of Westminster which contains St Stephen's Entrance, the main entry point to the House of Commons.
Since the tower was finished on 7 September 1859, the clock - the Great Clock of Westminster - was the largest four-faced clock in the world until the Allen-Bradley Clock Tower was built in Milwaukee. Known colloquially as the Polish Moon, this tower has clock faces almost twice the size of those in London and each minute hand is a whopping 20 feet long! Chimes were never added to the Allen-Bradley Clock Tower, meaning the Clock Tower at Westminster retains the title for the world's largest four-faced chiming clock.
During its 150 year history the clock has had a few minor problems, but it has never been out of action for any great length of time. Its biggest outage was in 1976 when wear and tear from more than a hundred years of use had their toll and caused a great deal of damage to the internal mechanisms. Over the next nine months the clock was not used for 26 days. Legend has is that the clock has twice been unintentionally put back.
In the 1960s heavy snow meant the minute hand was delayed by ten minutes as midnight approached and partygoers celebrated the coming of 1962 slightly late, whilst in 1945 a large flock of starlings landed on the 14ft minute hand which put it back by five minutes.
Regardless of these minor discrepancies, the Great Clock of Westminster is generally considered to be the displaying the correct time and BBC Radio 4 shows its faith by regularly broadcasting the chimes of Big Ben and friends.
Whether you refer to the tower by its official name or simply as Big Ben people across the world will know exactly what you mean. No matter where holidaymakers come from, people visiting London will have the tower on their to-see list and luckily it is clearly visible from other landmarks in the capital - such as the nearby London Eye - as well as many hotels in London.
Isla Campbell writes for a digital marketing agency. This article has been commissioned by a client of said agency. This article is not designed to promote, but should be considered professional content.