Home Site Map Back

Experiment upon the Great Bell

of the new Palace at Westminster

Source: The Illustrated London News, Dec 27, 1856

Great Bell

Every stage of the manufacture and erection of this magnificent Bell for the Clock of the new Houses of Parliament is replete with interest. Indeed, from the extraordinary attention paid to the fabrication of the Bell, and its involving several new theoretical views, it may be doubted whether, within memory, experimental science has been brought to bear to a like extent upon this class of manufacture.

In order fully to understand the subject of the Illustration upon the preceding page, it may be as well to explain that the Bell, when placed in the Clock Tower, will be struck at each hour by means of a hammer; while the quarters will be struck upon four smaller bells.

The scene we have represented is the first experiment made (on Saturday week) to determine the proportionate weight of the striking hammer of the large Bell, and the space through which is should fall upon the bow of the Bell. The trial was made in New Palace-yard, at the foot of the tower, and here were assembled. Mr. Denison, who designed the Bell; Mr. Dent, the maker of the Bell; and Mr. Quarm, the able clerk of the new Palace works. There were also present a few privileged spectators. To make the experiment the ponderous hammer, of nearly, or quite, a half ton weight, was placed on a stout framework of wood, at an inclination of about forty-five degrees, and slightly touching the Bell; the hammer was then raised from this position some inches, at various times, by means of a crab, which was then thrown out of gear, and the massive hammer-head fell by its own weight, striking the Bell with great precision, and bringing out the sound to its fullest extent. We believe the experiment to have been quite satisfactory. The raising of this Bell will be the next stage for our Illustration; and when the whole work is accomplished we trust it will redound to the credit of those several gentlemen into whose hands this herculean labour has fallen.