October 14th, 2011
07:31 PM ET

London's Clock Tower not quite upright

London’s iconic Clock Tower is tilting.

But as sure as the signature tolling from the four-faced clock rolls over Westminster, there is little to fear that the structure could topple anytime soon. Some jokingly suggest that as long as it doesn’t fall on their heads, all’s well.

The slight lean of 0.26 degrees to the northwest may not be noticeable to the naked eye - and certainly doesn’t compare to the 5-degree angle tilt of the Tower of Pisa in Italy - according to Surveyors of the Parliamentary Estates Department.

Experts believe it would take well over 4,000 years for the listing of Big Ben (as the tower is commonly called, though sticklers will remind you that the name refers to the great bell inside) to compare to the Tower of Pisa’s.

Jonathan Prew, the principal surveyor of the Parliament building, says the tilt has developed due to the varying thickness of the foundation beneath the tower.

“The tower weighs eight-and half thousand tons,” Prew said, “so it’s going to have an effect.”

It takes a total of 334 steps up the spiralling stairway inside the 96-meter (315-foot) tower to reach the clock phase, where the bells are housed.

Completed in 1858, the structure accents the majestic view of Parliament from the river Thames, and has served as the standard “This is London” shot in many famous films, including The “Harry Potter” Series, “V for Vendetta,” “39 Steps” and “Sweeney Todd.”

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Filed under: Travel • Uncategorized • United Kingdom
soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. us1776

    There's a little blue pill for that.


    October 14, 2011 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Calvin

    Politicians want to know if its leaning left or right.

    October 14, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. banasy©

    Omg...lmao @ both of the above posts!

    October 14, 2011 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Chris

    Nothing a little shim won't fix.

    October 14, 2011 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Christiannx

    V for Vendetta :3

    October 14, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Fact Check

    Um.... maybe it has moved because of the massive train tunnel they built under Big Ben. Construction companies pumped thousands of gallons of cement into the ground to stabilize the hole they cut for the Jubilee Line Extenstion.... just sayin...

    October 14, 2011 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    London is one of my favorite places in the world.
    I used to want to live there, but the inhabitants' manners, sadly, have changed, at least on the street.
    Nevertheless, the Clock Tower will stand as long as I do.

    October 14, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. dreamtoken

    um...do they get quakes over there? that could pose a problem

    October 14, 2011 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mad Ole Lady

    Hey JIF. I always wanted to see Ole Ben. I've been sitting on sidelines as I've been trolled and didn't appreciate it. Though no one does. I guess one could say the leaning tower of London. Anyway, good nite.

    October 14, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Diknur Mouth

    Oh I lived there Im better that everyone I only drive German cars I am so famous JIF who ? never heard of ya!what a pud

    October 14, 2011 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
  11. str8whtguy

    Typo in the last paragraph – "completed", not "competed". Just sayin'

    October 14, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • str8whtguy

      Sorry, I'm just anal about stuff like that. My students ask me to review their resumes, and I tell them that the slightest typo or spelling error will throw them out of the employment pool.

      October 14, 2011 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fact Check

      Nice Catch!

      October 14, 2011 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Hi there, Diknur Mouth.
    Surely you've heard of me. I'm very famous.
    My real name is JIF Smith!
    Look me up.
    Say something interesting.

    October 14, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Let's talk about London.
    Where do you stay when you go there?
    I like the Connaught: great food, and quiet.
    No, I never lived in London, but I've worked there many times, and twice for a few months.
    It has changed over the decades.

    October 14, 2011 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Terry Brookman

    It's British so no surprise there, some Viagra might help.

    October 14, 2011 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Matthew

    A "wee tilt"? Did someone tell whoever wrote the headline for the article that Big Ben is in England not Scotland??

    October 14, 2011 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
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