Sunday, November 20, 2022

Little Ben

London The Unfinished City
Little Ben.

Standing outside Victoria Station is a 30 foot replica of the Queen Elizabeth Tower, which is colloquially known as 'Big Ben'.

This replica has been used as a meeting place, since 1892, when French people caught their trains to the English ports. For almost all of this time is has stood where it was erected, except for being removed for a road-widening scheme and also when refurbishments took place at Victoria Station.

It is a wonderful little gem that, unless you are visiting the Victoria area, many people miss.

Brief History

Built and manufactured by Gillett & Johnston of Croydon, Little Ben is a cast iron replica of the clock tower at the Palace of Westminster, and was erected in 1892.

London The Unfinished City
Little Ben.
It was removed in 1964 when road-widening measures were installed. 

Following a complete restoration, in part sponsored by the French company Elf Aquitaine Limited, it wasn't re-erected, by Westminster City Council, until 1981. 

Elf Aquitaine Ltd. paid for the work, which included a new mechanism, in commemoration of the wedding between the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer.

There is a couplet affixed to the body of the clock tower that reads:

My hands you may retard or may advance
my heart beats true for England as for France.

This couplet references the fact that the hands on Little Ben were to always be fixed to British Summer Time. However, this policy seems to have never been implemented as the time is changed so that the time reflects that of every other clock in the UK.

Little Ben was removed, again, in 2012 whilst upgrade works were carried out at Victoria station and the refurbished clock was finally reinstalled in 2016.

Little Ben stands at the intersection of Vauxhall Bridge Road and Victoria Street, at the furthest end of which stands the Palace of Westminster.

Little Ben became Grade II listed in 1987.

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