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. Steve

    Are you sure it's not the camera tripod with a tilt? The video still would lend me to blame the camera operator...

    October 14, 2011 at 11:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • A1Retouching.com

      Steve, you might be on to something...pretty good observation there, seriously!

      October 15, 2011 at 8:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Ken Andrews

      Don't worry Big Ben, Bill Clinton had the same problem, until Monica straightened him out.

      October 15, 2011 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Nancy P

      Harry had a slight "tilt" issue until I straightened it out....!

      Sincerely Nancy P

      October 15, 2011 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
  2. Virgil

    Competed? Who did Big Ben compete with?

    October 15, 2011 at 12:01 am | Report abuse |
  3. Dr_dumbinder_Singh

    get rid of it
    its an eyesore

    October 15, 2011 at 12:07 am | Report abuse |
    • grumpy

      Why don't you fly a jet into it?

      October 15, 2011 at 8:09 am | Report abuse |
  4. school marm

    P is for psycho
    H is for hypocrite
    I is for ignorant
    L is for lunatic
    I is for incorrect
    P is for pubescent

    October 15, 2011 at 12:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Dr. Phil


      October 15, 2011 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
  5. Chris

    315' * tan(0.26) = 1.4'

    Must be a slow news days.

    October 15, 2011 at 1:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      I beg to differ, 1.4' is the difference between average Ben and Big Ben.

      October 15, 2011 at 9:00 am | Report abuse |
  6. Spaceman

    Those bloody builders, useless back in 1858, with their fancy plumbobs.

    October 15, 2011 at 1:53 am | Report abuse |
  7. raven

    I would love to visit London . Id like even more to visit Florence though . And color me pud-lover; I like readin JIF- Smiths posts.

    October 15, 2011 at 3:54 am | Report abuse |
  8. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    @ raven:
    Buon giorno!
    I think you'd love Florence.
    I don't go to those places as a tourist. I go to work.
    I don't know what a "pud" is, but I'll find out today.
    When, as an eleven-year-old, I got my piano teacher's lecture about why an unknown person destroyed a posted photograph of my playing for 2,500 people in a concert, and why that would always happen to me, I understood the message and continued my work. I also continued to share my experiences with others who weren't bothered by my living as who I am.

    October 15, 2011 at 6:46 am | Report abuse |
  9. raven

    Morning JIF(S) ! Good. Cuz I like you. And I love what you do for a living .A The man who loves his job is always on vacation.

    October 15, 2011 at 7:11 am | Report abuse |
  10. Sanders

    Big Ben has been hanging for so many years....whether you like it or not the earth will suck it to the ground.

    October 15, 2011 at 8:34 am | Report abuse |
  11. Sanders

    I mean clock tower...I should say.

    October 15, 2011 at 8:36 am | Report abuse |
  12. sw6blues

    The tower is called St. Stephens. Is this so difficult to even mention in the story?

    October 15, 2011 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
  13. Epiphany

    I know a few people who aren't quite upright, either.
    UpTIGHT, well, that's a different story.

    October 15, 2011 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |

    we need a big via-gra pill

    October 15, 2011 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
  15. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    A wonderful friend investigated the word "pud" for me and texted me its meaning.
    I take it as a great compliment!
    If his definition is correct, it's one of the first things people notice about me.

    October 15, 2011 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
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