Defiantly low-tech yet accurate to the second, Big Ben is celebrating its 150th birthday on Sunday, its Victorian chimes carrying the sound of Britain into the 21st century. It’s a birthday the world can share in.
The peals of London’s favorite clock are carried globally by BBC radio, and its 96-meter tower, is the city’s most famous landmark. But getting inside the Big Ben, the sonorous main bell that gives its name to the whole contraption, isn’t easy.
Security measures mean few are granted admission, and there’s no elevator, so those who are escorted in must climb 334 winding limestone stairs.
Catherine Moss, who took journalists on a pre-anniversary tour, said in one year as a Big Ben guide, she had climbed the height of Everest three times over. “It’s my own private step machine,” the trim-looking 51-year-old called down from the top of the tower.
No special events are planned, aside from an exhibition opening September 19 in the parliamentary offices.