The clock towers bigger than Big Ben

Plus: the decline of British steel; and a comparison of prime-ministerial jets

24 October 2015

9:00 AM

24 October 2015

9:00 AM

Bigger Bens

Big Ben will have a £29m refurbishment. Who has the biggest clock tower?

Kremlin Clock: Installed on the 232ft Spasskaya Tower. Clock has a diameter of 20ft.

Big Ben: Installed on 315ft Elizabeth Tower. Clock faces are 24ft across.

Metropolitan Life Insurance Building, New York: 700ft high (although the clock is only two-thirds of the way up). Clock is 26ft 6in in diameter.

Abraj Al-Bait Towers, Mecca: Clock is on 1,972ft tower and visible from 15 miles away. Clock faces are 151ft in diameter.

Brussels clout

How important is the EU as an export market? Britain’s top ten export markets by value in August this year:


US £3.2bn
Switzerland £2.3bn
Netherlands £1.5bn
China £1.4bn
Ireland £1.2bn
France £1.2bn
Belgium £896m
Hong Kong £655m
Spain £625m

Change since August 2014

US +15%
Switzerland +290%
Netherlands +2%
China +35.8%
Ireland -1.3%
France -19.4%
Belgium +7.8%
Hong Kong +49.3%
Spain -9.3%

Source: ONS

Steel away

Tata Steel announced 1,200 job losses at its Scunthorpe plant in the latest contraction in the industry. Between 1970 and 2014, UK steel production fell from 27.8m to 9.4m tonnes. The fall in jobs has been more precipitous still.

Workers in UK steel industry
1971 320,000
1978 271,000
1991 44,000
2001 30,000
2014 24,000

Source: House of Commons Library

Jet set

President Xi flew into Heathrow in his jumbo. Who has the biggest presidential/prime ministerial jet?

Operating empty weight in lb
UK: Bae146 (x2) 52,000
Russia: Ilyushin Il-96-300PU 265,000
Germany: Airbus A340 (x2) 284,000
US Boeing 747-200 (x2) 383,000
China: 747-400 393,000
India: 747-400 (x4) 393,000
Saudi Arabia: 747-400 393,000
Kuwait 747-8 (on order) 472,000

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Show comments
  • Sean Grainger

    Dear Mr & Mrs Barometer. While Peter Jones’s is my favourite column by some distance I usually get a lot of mileage out of yours. But you really had to offer some guidance on the
    very odd leap in our exports to Switzerland. They paid a fortune for Chemmy Alcott not to ski there perchance but …

  • Joe Thorpe

    What exactly are we selling to Belgium & the Netherlands? Surely this is just goods passing through their ports to their non EU destination? Why does the EU insist on recording the movement of goods as an EU export when they aren’t? & then Holland & Belgium get to claim they are exporting like mad people, it’s bonkers.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Installed on the 232ft …
    Correction: Installed on the 23 2ft …

  • frank davidson

    We pay the EU £12 billion and we export such a relatively tiny amount! No benefits here.