The Big Ben is leaning! Not as much as the Tower of Pisa, but you can see it with the naked eye. Right now, it's at an inclination of 1.64 feet at its highest point. And it's getting worse.
The keepers of the 315-foot (96 meters) high clock tower say they have been monitoring the tilting closely since 1999. According to their figures, the process has been accelerating since 2003. Before it was moving at a running average of 0.65 millimeters per year. Now the rate is 0.9 millimeters per year.
They claim that this will not be a problem any time soon: "Our resident expert believes it will be between 4,000 and 10,000 years before it becomes a problem." They don't know what's behind this acceleration, however, and say that there's "no real proof what has caused it." Current theories include the extension of the London's subway Jubilee Line—which goes under the Parliament—and the clay ground on which the tower was built, which is now drying and may be causing the movement.
The tower of the Palace of Westminster was designed by Augustus Pugin. Its structure was built using brickwork and limestone cladding, with a framed spire of cast iron on the top. It sits on a 9.8-feet thick 49-foot (19 meters) square raft made of concrete. There are 334 limestone stairs that connect the ground floor to the top of the tower. It was finished on 1859. Soon after finishing its design, Pugin went mad and died. [BBC News, Reuters]
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