Thursday, 18 December 2008

Little Ben

This Victorian clock mimics a larger and more famous landmark: hence its nickname, 'Little Ben'. (Yes, it should of course be 'Little Houses of Parliament Clock Tower' because the iconic tower is not Big Ben, which is the bell inside, and is not even St Stephen's Tower which is further along over St Stephen's Entrance. However, 'Little Ben' definitely has more of a ring to it.)

Little Ben was manufactured by Gillett & Johnston of Croydon, and erected in 1892. It survived the Second World War, but was taken down in 1964 when the road was widened. The clock tower was restored and placed in its current location outside Victoria Station in 1981 - with the assistance of French oil company Elf-Aquitaine, as a gesture of Anglo-French friendship. The clock had long served as a meeting place for travellers using Victoria Station, many of whom were French people taking trains to the Channel ports.

A plaque on the base bears 'Little Ben's Apology for Summer Time':
My hands you may retard or may advance
My heart beats true for England as for France

Nearby: Anna Pavlova statue.

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