Ornate decoration on the Clock Tower’s upper floors owes much to Augustus Welby Pugin’s influence on the main architect, Sir Charles Barry. The two architects collaborated successfully on the Palace of Westminster’s neo-Gothic style which is displayed to great effect on the clock dials.

Each dial is 7m in diameter and is made from cast iron. Each dial contains 312 separate pieces of pot opal glass, a type of glass with an opaque finish.

The hour figure of four o’clock is shown by the Roman numeral IV, rather than IIII, as is more commonly used on clock dials.

Under each clock dial there is a Latin inscription carved in stone: “Domine Salvam fac Reginam nostrum Victoriam primam” which means “O Lord, save our Queen Victoria the First.”

Photographs of the clock face:

The photograph below was taken behind the clock face in 1910.



Famous around the world for keeping impeccable time, the Big Ben Clock Tower was fully operational on September 7, 1859.

Although most people refer to the entire tower as the Big Ben Clock Tower, the name Big Ben actually refers to the bell housed within the tower.  The tower is actually St Stephen’s Tower. The bell itself weighs almost 14 tons, and takes its name from the man who first ordered the bell, Sir Benjamin Hall.  The four clock faces of the Big Ben in London are each 23 feet in diameter; the biggest of its kind when it was constructed.  Certain pieces of the clock face of the Big Ben in London have been designed for easy removal, to allow for cleaning and maintenance of the clock hands.

The base of each of the clock faces of the Big Ben in London bears a Latin inscription meaning, “Lord save our Queen Victoria I,” as the Big Ben Clock Tower and the adjoining Palace of Westminster were constructed during the Victorian age. Due to ground conditions, the Big Ben Clock Tower now leans slightly to the Northwest, and also moves back and forth by a few millimeters each year. Big Ben history has long recorded the clock”s remarkable reliability.  The engineering of the clock is such that the actual mechanisms of the clock itself are well protected from climate changes and harsh weather.  Though the clock has experienced slowing at various times through its history, the clock continued to run accurately during The Blitz of World War II.

Although Charles Barry was the chief architect of the Palace of Westminster, it was Augustus Pugin who designed the Clock Tower, and this was Pugin’s last design before his final descent into madness and death, and Pugin himself wrote, at the time of Barry’s last visit to him to collect the drawings: “I never worked so hard in my life for Mr Barry for tomorrow I render all the designs for finishing his bell tower & it is beautiful.” The tower is designed in Pugin’s Gothic Revival style.

The Clock Dials

The clock and dials were designed by  Augustus Pugin.  The clock dials are set in an iron frame 23 feet (7 m) in diameter, supporting 312 pieces of opal glass, rather like a stained-glass window. Some of the glass pieces may be removed for inspection of the hands. The surround of the dials is gilded. The hour hand is 2.7 metres (9 ft) long and the minute hand is 4.3 metres (14 ft) long.

The Great Bell

Cast in 1856, the first bell was transported to the tower on a trolley drawn by sixteen horses, with crowds cheering its progress. Unfortunately, it cracked beyond repair while being tested and a replacement had to be made. The bell was recast on 10 April 1858 at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry as a 13.76 tonne.  This was pulled 200 ft (61 m) up to the Clock Tower’s belfry, a feat that took 18 hours. It is 2.2 metres tall and 2.9 metres wide. This new bell first chimed in July 1859. In September it too cracked under the hammer, a mere two months after it officially went into service. According to the foundry’s manager, George Mears, Denison had used a hammer more than twice the maximum weight specified.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 reinstalled. 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 an odd twang ever since and is still in use today complete with the crack.

Big Ben and the quarter bells as shown in the Illustrated News of the World in 1858:

The Movement

The clock’s movement is famous for its reliability. The designers were the lawyer and amateur horologist Edmund Beckett Denison and George Airy, the Astronomer Royal, and it was constructed by the clockmaker Edward Dent; after his death in 1853 his stepson Frederick Dent completed the work, in 1854.  As the Tower was not complete until 1859, Denison had time to experiment: Instead of using the deadbeat escapement and remontoire as originally designed, Denison invented the double three-legged gravity escapement. This provided the best separation between pendulum and clock mechanism. The pendulum is installed within an enclosed windproof box sunk beneath the clockroom. It is 13 feet (3.9 m) long, weighs 660 pounds (300 kg) and beats every 2 seconds. The clockwork mechanism in a room below weighs 5 tons. On top of the pendulum is a small stack of old penny coins; these are to adjust the time of the clock. Adding a coin has the effect of minutely lifting the position of the pendulum’s centre of mass, reducing the effective length of the pendulum rod and hence increasing the rate at which the pendulum swings. Adding or removing a penny will change the clock’s speed by 0.4 seconds per day.

As my story “In Memorium” is set in an alternate reality of Victorian London, As part of my research for my project I looked at photographs and art based on Victorian London .

One of the books I have been inspired by is the book “The Art of Alice: Madness Returns” which showcases the stunning artwork behind the video game’s unique interpretation of Wonderland.

London forms part of Alice’s world outside of Wonderland and the artwork is particularly atmospheric, portraying London as a gray, desaturated place, full of filth and grime.

Women’s Fashion

In the 1840s and 1850s, women’s gowns developed narrow and sloping shoulders, low and pointed waists, and bell-shaped skirts. Corsets, an ankle-length chemise-like skirt, and layers of petticoats were worn under the gowns. By the 1850s the number of petticoats was reduced and the crinoline was worn; as such the size of the skirts expanded. Day dresses had a solid bodice and evening gowns had a very low neckline and were worn off the shoulder with sheer shawls and opera-length gloves.

In the 1860s, the skirts became flatter at the front and projected out more behind the woman. Day dresses had wide pagoda sleeves and high necklines with lace or tatted collars. Evening dresses had low necklines and short sleeves, and were worn with short gloves or fingerless lace or crocheted mitts.

In the 1870s, uncorseted tea gowns were introduced for informal entertaining at home and steadily grew in popularity. Bustles were used to replace the crinoline to hold the skirts up behind the woman, even for “seaside dresses”.

In the 1880s, clothing worn when out walking had a long jacket and skirt, worn with the bustle, and a small hat or bonnet.

In the 1890s, women’s fashion became simpler and less extravagant; both bustles and crinoline fell out of use and dresses were not as tight as before. Corsets were still used but became slightly longer, giving women a slight S-curve silhouette. Skirts took on a trumpet shape, fitting closely over the hip with a wasp-waist cut and flaring just above the knee. High necks and puffed sleeves became popular.

Men’s Fashion

During the 1840s, men wore tight-fitting, calf length frock coat and a waistcoat. The waistcoats were single- or double-breasted, with shawl or notched collars, and might be finished in double points at the lowered waist. For more formal occasions, a cutaway morning coat was worn with light trousers during the daytime, and a dark tail coat and trousers was worn in the evening. The shirts were made of linen or cotton with low collars, occasionally turned down, and were worn with wide cravats or neck ties. Trousers had fly fronts, and breeches were used for formal functions and when horseback riding. Men wore top hats, with wide brims in sunny weather.

During the 1850s men started wearing shirts with high upstanding or turnover collars and neck ties tied in a bow, or tied in a knot with the pointed ends sticking out like “wings”. The upper-class continued to wear top hats, and bowler hats were worn by the working class.

In the 1860s, men started wearing wider neckties that were tied in a bow or looped into a loose knot and fastened with a stickpin. Frock coats were shortened to knee-length and were worn for business, while the mid-thigh length sack coat slowly displaced the frock coat for less-formal occasions. Top hats briefly became the very tall “stovepipe” shape, but a variety of other hat shapes were popular.

During the 1870s, three-piece suits grew in popularity along with patterned fabrics for shirts. Neckties were the four-in-hand and, later, the ascot ties. A narrow ribbon tie was an alternative for tropical climates, especially in the Americas. Both frock coats and sack coats became shorter.

During the 1880s, formal evening dress remained a dark tail coat and trousers with a dark waistcoat, a white bow tie, and a shirt with a winged collar. In mid-decade, the dinner jacket  was used in more relaxed formal occasions. Knee-length topcoats, often with contrasting velvet or fur collars, and calf-length overcoats were worn in winter. Men’s shoes had higher heels and a narrow toe.

As difficult as it is to believe, I have reached my final project on my Illustration degree course, and I just don’t know where the past 3 years went. It doesn’t seem 2 minutes since we were registering on the first day of the course. So many ups and downs along the way, but I survived, and am still surviving, ready to start thinking about my final project. However, in reality I have been thinking about this final project for a very long time, as the idea has its roots in a story I have had on the back-burner for the past 8 years.  The initial idea I had for the final project was to produce character concept sheets for some of the main charcters in my story … I have had these characters in my head and have been sketching them on paper for such a long time and their appearances have gradually evolved as my skills developed and my ideas changed.  So I thought I would create a series of character concept sheets, and then look at storyboards and present the characters in a storyboard sequence.

However once I had discussed my proposed plan with the tutors, I was then encouraged to produce a series of comic book pages featuring some of my characters. I knew that I would find this a considerable challenge as I had not produced anything along the lines of comic pages since GCSE, and while I find illustrating characters straightforward, I find illustrating backgrounds, scenery and architecture far more challenging. Prepared to give it my best effort, I then decided to attempt to produce three comic pages based on the finals scene of my story, and featuring three of my characters, which would then be presented along side my character concept sheets.

The story is set in a altered reality of Victorian London, and focuses on Victorian style clothing and time-pieces, and the final scenes of the story are played out within the clocktower of Big Ben in London. I therefore focused a  lot of research on looking at this style of fashion, Victorian life and art, and on Big Ben itself, as the iconic centrepiece of my story.

In order to promote my work further I have set up a Tumblr website which will enable me to showcase my best illustrations.


I have also purchased a professional website domain but I haven’t had the time to do anything with that as yet. Hopefully once all my artwork for finals is completed I will have time to play around with my website.

My website address: www.TarynWhittamIllustration.com  ( currently a work in progress )

After experimenting with different illustrations on my business card I eventually went for a character illustration, as this is ideally what I want to specialise in: character concept design. I chose a pastel striped/ mottled effect background so that the illustration and the typography stand out. On one side of the card I wanted the character illustration, on the other side the typography consisting of my name, what I do, and my on-line contact details, plus a smaller illustration of a cat. The cards were designed so that the background would tie in with my Tumblr website, and my letter head and my professional website will also be designed using a similar colour scheme.

The cards actually came out looking a little more faded than anticipated, but I don’t feel this diminishes their effectiveness as business cards promoting my art style and what I hope to do. The illustration I chose to use is my character Eric Gracey, and this is the original illustration I used:

Rather than shrink down the whole illustration I have just used head and shoulders to hopefully give it more impact:

The reverse side of the card  in the final version:

Overall I was pleased with the way my business cards have turned out, although it was a struggle to fit all of the words on the card, and the size of the wording reflects this. I would perhaps try and improve the typography for future business cards in view of this, as my contact details may not stand out enough.  Ideally I would also like to produce cards with different illustrations on them, but due to time and financial restraints at the present time I just decided to use one version of the card.