Big Ben Book

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Book reprinting. Available mid December.
(Check Amazon, eBay and horological booksellers for their current stock)

Extracts from Book reviews...

"Chris McKay tells you everything you could possibly want to know about the clock and its bells"
Keith Richmond
Government Gazette

"As with all the best historical object biographies, McKay's book invites us - no forces us - to look at a familiar artefact with entirely fresh and searching eyes. Details we may have previously overlooked now, with McKay's patient guidance, become startlingly apparent, and these revelations are much needed if we are to understand fully the role of technology in our everyday lives." –
David Rooney,
Antiquarian Horology

"A very good book [...], a work which holds the interest of the reader whilst imparting knowledge of both the history and technology of the clock, the tower, and bells; an impressive feat. It is also a book which tells enough to stimulate interest while not being too heavy. If you have only one book on turret clocks, it should probably be this one." –
Colin Fergusso
Horological Journal

"Technical books can be often be extremely dull for those with only a passing interest in the subject portrayed, but this book succeeds in holding the interest of the reader whilst imparting knowledge of both the the history and technology of our horological heritage. If you only ever buy one book on clocks this should most definitely be it." –
Richard Offen
Ringing World

"As somebody with more than a passing interest in clocks I can endorse the reviewer's verdict that this book is a masterpiece and is of interest to the general reader as well as the specialist. The fascinating story of the libel case which the then owners of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry won against the formidable Edmund Beckett Denison would alone make it attractive to ringers."
Robert Lewis
Editor Ringing World.

Big Ben: The Great Clock and Bells at the Palace of Westminster
Chris McKay

288 pages 260 b/w halftones, plus 8pp colour plate section 246x189mm

Publisher: Oxford University Press

978-0-19-958569-4 Hardback

Launch July 2010

Price £42.50

* Comprehensive detailed history

* Extensively illustrated

* New previously unpublished material

* Appeals to the specialist and the general reader

* Full technical descriptions of the clock and bells

This book covers the history of 'Big Ben', the great clock and bells at Westminster , from the origins of Westminster as the seat of government right up to the celebrations of the Great Clock's 150th anniversary in 2009.

The book begins by taking the reader through a typical visit to the Clock Tower, and then begins the history of the palace of Westminster , covering the fire of 1834, the building of the New Houses of Parliament and development of the clock and the bells, going into detail on their design and installation. The book covers the famous cracking of the current bell Big Ben in 1859, with sketches of all the characters involved, the two world wars, and the disaster of 1976. The book ends with a detailed technical description of the clock mechanism.

The book is richly illustrated, and will appeal not only to clockmakers and horologists, but to bell enthusiasts, and those with an interest in our rich Victorian heritage.

Readership: Historical horologists, practical horologists, bell historians, bell ringers, tourists, the technically-minded public, historians of Victoriana.


Foreword by Mike McCann, Keeper of the Great Clock


1: Big Ben: a Brief History

2: A Visit to the Clock Tower

3: The Palace of Westminster to 1834

4: The Great Fire of 1834

5: A New Palace: 1835 Onwards

6: Plans and Specifications for the Great Clock: 1844 - 1852

7: The Great Clock is Built: 1852-1854

8: The Bells: 1856-1858

9: The Dials

10: The Development of the Gravity Escapement

11: The Great Clock is Installed and Set Going

12: Big Ben Cracks: 1859 - 1863

13: The Clock Ticks On: 1863 - 1900

14: Through Two World Wars: 1900 - 2000

15: The Disaster of 1976

16: The Restoration in 2007

17: The Great Clock-- A Complete Description

18: Miscellaneous

19: The 150th Celebrations

20: Postscript

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