Surveyors have recently revealed that perhaps the most recognisable landmark in London, Big Ben, has a marked tilt that is getting worse every year.
Big Ben is actually the name of the largest of five bells hung in St Stephen’s Tower in the Houses of Parliament. It has been reported that the top of the tower is now almost one and a half feet off the perpendicular, a difference so substantial that the tower can now be seen to be leaning with the naked eye.
The tower is actually ‘sinking’ or ‘settling’, unevenly, into the ground on which it was built. This effect is occurring more quickly on the north side than the south, leading to the slightly alarming effect that thousands of Londoners can view every day.
The cause is reputedly found in the construction works that have taken place all around the 11 storey tower in the years since its construction in 1858. These include a sewer built in the 1860s’, the District Line (Underground train service) and an underground car park for MP’s built in the 1970’s.
A new survey from London Underground and the Parliamentary Estates Department has found that the rate of movement has accelerated in the last few years. Not too much though, as it is still estimating that the tower will only reach the famous tilt of the Leaning Tower of Pisa in around 4000 years time at its present rate. A few more years would be necessary for the building to actually topple.
Not to worry though, on its present trajectory it should fall straight into MP’s offices over the road in Portcullis House. An investigation might then be necessary to ascertain whether it fell, or was pushed.