On 10 April 1858 the second and current great bell for the clock tower of the Palace of Westminster, known as Big Ben, was cast at Whitechapel Bell Foundry in east London. Installed in what is now known as the Elizabeth Tower, it is the second bell commissioned for the rebuilding of the Houses of Parliament, rebuilt after being destroyed by a fire in 1834. The first bell, cast by John Warner & Sons on 6 August 1856 in Stockton-on-Tees, developed an irreparable crack before the tower was completed. The current bell, officially known as the Great Bell but better known as Big Ben, was cast at Whitechapel using metal reclaimed from the first bell. It was transported from the Foundry to the Houses of Parliament amid much fanfare, with crowds cheering its progress. The bells of the Great Clock of Westmister rang across London for the first time on 31 May 1859.

The new bell also developed crack shortly after installation, in September 1859. For three years Big Ben was taken out of commission and the hours were struck on the lowest of the quarter bells until it was repaired. To make the repair, a square piece of metal was chipped out from the rim around the crack, and the bell given an eighth of a turn so the new hammer struck in a different place. Big Ben has chimed with a slightly different tone ever since, and is still in use today with the crack unrepaired.

On this day in London history.


The following is a list of events we have compiled for London’s history during the month of April.

  1. 1875 Edgar Wallace born in Greenwich |
  2. 1914 Alec Guinness born in Maida Vale | 1940 Penelope Keith born in Sutton | 2015 Hatton Garden safe deposit burglary |
  3. 1888 Prostitute Emma Smith fatally attacked in Whitechapel | 2020 NHS Nightingale London hospital opened |
  4. 1787 HMS Swiftsure launched at Deptford Dockyard |
  5. d
  6. 1590 Death of politician Francis Walsingham | 1852 Politician Will Crooks born in Poplar | 1895 Oscar Wilde arrested at Cadogan Hotel | 2010 Death of actor Corin Redgrave |
  7. d
  8. 1968 Flight 712 accident |
  9. 1937 Kamikaze lands at Croydon |
  10. 1858 Big Ben cast at Whitechapel | 1992 Baltic Exchange bombing |
  11. 1554 Thomas Wyatt executed at Tower Hill | 1855 First pillar boxes installed in London | 1892 Stamford Street poisonings | 1981 Brixton riot |
  12. 1655 HMS Royal Charles launched at Woolwich Dockyard |
  13. d
  14. 2000 M25 killer Kenneth Noye convicted |
  15. l
  16. l
  17. 1984 WPC Yvonne Fletcher murdered l 1999 Brixton bomb blast |
  18. 1689 Death of Judge Jeffreys | 1912 Frederick Seddon hanged at Pentonville | 1960 H-bomb protest |
  19. 1662 Regecides executed at Tyburn l 1783 HMS Europa launched at Woolwich Dockyard |
  20. l
  21. 1955 Fleet Street strike ends l
  22. 1852 HMS Agamemnon launched at Woolwich Dockyard | 1972 Maxwell Confait found murdered in Catford l 1993 Stephen Lawrence murdered in Eltham |
  23. 1791 HMS Providence launched at Blackwall | 1803 HMS Colossus launched at Deptford Dockyard | 1924 British Empire Exhibition opens at Wembley | 1979 Southall race riots |
  24. 1993 Bishopsgate bombing l
  25. 1769 First Royal Academy exhibition | 1868 HMS Repulse launched at Woolwich Dockyard | 2002 Brothers cleared of Damilola murder |
  26. |
  27. |
  28. 1882 George Lamson hanged at Wandsworth |
  29. 1958 My Fair Lady opens |
  30. 1999 Soho nail bomb |

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