It looks like London will soon catch up with Italian town Pisa for housing a leaning tower, the Big Ben is tilting! The London Underground and the Parliamentary Estates Department has revealed that the tower is leaning to the northwestern direction, a tilt that is far from dangerous, yet visible to the naked eye. At a leaning angle of 0.26 degrees, it is still a fraction of the tilt of the tower of Pisa, precisely 1/16 of it.
The big Ben has been budging down in one direction since 1999 at an unnoticeable rate of 0.65mm per year, in 2003 the rate picked up to 0.9mm annually, right now, it’s at an inclination of 0.55 meters (1.64 feet) at its highest point and is noticeable to street passers. These levels are not considered to be unsafe relative to its height of 96.3 metres (316 ft).
“If it started greater acceleration, we would have to look at doing something but I don’t think we need to do anything for a few years yet, Our resident expert believes it will be between 4,000 and 10,000 years before it becomes a problem.” emeritus professor and senior research investigator at Imperial College, London, John Burland, told the Sunday Telegraph.
Engineers have come up with a few theories to explain the case, one of which is that the clay soil bed the tower stands on is drying out and causing slight depressions; another is the underground work on the extension of the Jubilee Line passing under the parliament, yet with no evidence no one is sure what’s the main cause of the lean.
Big Ben is the name of the bell contained within St Stephen’s Tower, also known as the Clock Tower, it was designed by Augustus Pugin. Its structure was built using brickwork and limestone cladding, with a framed spire of cast iron on the top. There are 334 limestone stairs that connect the ground floor to the top of the tower. It was finished on 1859.
[Via BBC News, Reuters] [Original image: Shutterstock / Daniel Gale] [Mock image: Gizmodo]