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The Big Ben

Surprise! It's Big Ben!

Welcome to my home. I live here in this little nest inside this large clock, which is here in this tall clock tower in the great city of London. I'm a Big Ben bird.

Big Ben is in the Palace of Westminster, which is the main government building in Britain. This is where the most important decisions in the United Kingdom are made. It is also where the Prime Minister works.

The clock tower is 320 feet tall, and it has a very unusual clock. Most clocks have only one face, but this clock has four faces. That way people from all around can look up and see what time it is.

The clock does not need a battery or electricity like your clock at home. This is an old fashioned clock. It runs on weights. If the clock is not keeping perfect time, the clock master adds or removes and old penny to the weights so that it is perfect again.

I hear people say, "Look over there. It's Big Ben." Most people think that Big Ben is the name of this tower. But did you know that Big Ben is not the name of the clock tower? It's the name of the biggest and most famous bell inside the tower.

Big Ben rings every hour of the day so that people can hear what time it is it. It is much taller than even a really tall man. Big Ben is 2.8 meters high, and it weighs 13,760 kg. That is more than the weight of 175 men.

Big Ben is one of the biggest bells in the world. It was made on Saturday, April 10, 1858, and was named after Sir Benjamin Hall. Benjamin, or Ben for short, was a very large man who was in charge of buying the new bell for the St. Stephen's Tower Clock.

One of the most amazing things about Big Ben is the place where it was made. Big Bend comes from the Whitechapel Bell Foundry here in London. The Whitechapel Bell foundry is famous because many of the great bells in the world were made here.

But it is also famous because this factory is over 400 years old. The Whitechapel Bell Foundry began in 1570 and is still in business today. It is the oldest company in Britain and one of the oldest companies in the world.

Since the opening of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry there have been over twenty-seven Kings and Queens in Britain. Some of them, like King George V and Queen Mary, even came and visited this factory.

The factory has always been on the same street. In 1670, during the Great Fire of London the Whitechapel Bell Foundry burned down. But right after the fire, they rebuilt their factory just across the street. And that is where it still stands today.

The most famous bells that were made at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry are the Liberty Bell in the United States, the great Bell of Montreal in Canada, and of course Big Ben. But now there are some new very special bells that are being made at the factory.

They are called The Bells of September. Three large bells are being made to remember the very sad day when the World Trade Centers in New York city were destroyed. The first one has just been finished. It was made to look exactly like the Liberty Bell.

Listen! Can you hear that? It's Big Ben ringing, so it must be twelve o'clock. I should hurry back to the bell tower now and get my lunch.

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