Experts investigating London's leaning 'Big Ben' clock tower have now identified the cause. They say it is because of the vibrations going through the tower's structure every time the Great Bell, 'Big Ben', is chimed.
The leaning problem with Big Ben was first noticed back in the 1970's. The amount of leaning then was only very little, with hardly any change up to just a year ago. However there has been a noticeable acceleration of the leaning during the past few months. In fact several bricks fell down to the ground from the north side of the tower last week. Luckily no injuries were reported to the tourists below but a pigeon was killed on the ground by a small piece of mortar dislodged from somewhere high up the clock tower's outer walls.
The problem was first noticed not long after a nearby underground tube station was built as part of the then new Jubilee line back in the '70s. At the time it was assumed the excavation work below ground had somehow disturbed the foundations of the old clock tower, but today's experts insist those excavations had nothing to do with it. The cause of the leaning tower of London is the 'Big Ben' Great Bell shaking the whole structure about with it's mighty chimes and swaying at the top of the tower every time the deaf old Bishop of Westminster strikes it on the hour with his great big wooden mallet.
The clock tower of Big Ben is of course a very old building. Nowadays when a clock tower is built EU regulations require that rubberised bricks and mortar are used so that the giant bells don't strain the whole structure of the tower when they sound. Experts who have been studying Big Ben say it's nothing short of a miracle that it's remained standing for as long as it has.
EU safety rules mean the famous clock tower will now have to be demolished before it comes crashing down by itself onto the heads of passers by.
During an interview with William Hague on BBC1's 'The Andrew Marr Show' this morning the Foreign Secretary admitted he'd cried when the Prime Minister told him that the famous London clock tower would have to go.
"The Prime Minister broke the news to me in a 2.30am telephone call to my caravan at Dale Farm this morning," he revealed. "He explained that the EU rules, which we must abide by, leaves him with no option but to order the demolition of the clock tower, and that regrettably it means that on this occasion he has no choice but to put the safety of the public first. Nevertheless, despite the austerity measures he's inflicting he did point out that the vast majority of people still have wristwatches, so don't really need Big Ben to find out what time it is, and those who have pawned them can easily ask someone nearby who still has one on their wrist to tell them the time." Mr Hague did have some good news to pass on to the viewers.
"The Great Bell itself is not going to be sold off as scrap metal." he said. "During the phone conversation I had with the Prime Minister early this morning from the caravan site, he told me that after all the old bricks from the clock tower have been cleared away following the demolition work the Great Bell itself will be put on permanent display there at ground level. People will be able to actually see the bell affectionately known as Big Ben when they visit London, something they couldn't do before when it was high up in the tower. They'll be able to touch it, take photographs of it, and so on. Obviously the EU safety rules will not allow it to be chimed - the sound of it's chimes at ground level would burst the eardrums of anyone within a mile of the thing. The Prime Minister is to instead arrange for a system of loudspeakers to be placed near to the bell. Recordings of Big Ben's chimes will then be played every hour through the loudspeakers for tourists to enjoy."