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Few of us get the chance to visit Big Ben: after all it is a once in a lifetime experience — literally. Of course, we all tend to think of Big Ben as that magnificent Gothic style tower that is such a familiar part of the London skyline.
But the tower, soon to be renamed the Queen Elizabeth Tower in honour of Her Majesty’s Jubilee, has never been Big Ben. That title belongs to the great bell that rings out the hours.
When Stephen Metcalfe MP gave the opportunity to members of Gateway 97.8 to take advantage of their once in a lifetime opportunity by arranging an invitation for them to visit the tower and climb up to see Big Ben, there was no shortage of candidates, despite the 334 step climb!
They found out how the tower had been built from the inside so no scaffolding would show. They heard about the lantern light to signal Parliament in session to Queen Victoria; they saw the fascinating collection of portraits and caricatures of leading political figures of the last Century and this.
But best of all perhaps was the sensation of standing close beside Big Ben as it struck three. None of the group will ever forget the massive but sensitive mechanism, the resonating sound of the great bell and the familiar Westminster chime from the smaller bells that echoed a phrase from the music of Handel.
Here is the 3 ‘o clock chime:[audio:http://www.gateway978.com/www2/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Big-Ben.mp3|titles=Big Ben]