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Archive for October 29th, 2009

With MPs taking the entire summer off, it seems only fair that another Parliamentary figure should pack up and go on holiday too.

Rising above a field of ripening corn, the clock tower of Big Ben has appeared in a sleepy stretch of rural Cheshire.

Closer inspection reveals that this is a rustic copy of the Victorian landmark, built on a farm using more than 500 bales of hay – and featuring a working clock. Although its faces are illuminated at night there are only two – both facing the road – rather than the four of the real thing.

Little Ben: The sculpture, which has a working clock, was built in celebration of summer and heralds the 150th anniversary of the famous London landmark. Previous straw creations have included a rocket and a windmill

London calling: The 70ft Big Ben sculpture, made with over 500 bales weighing over 20 tonnes, dominates the view on the A51 road between Nantwich and Chester in Cheshire

Dead ringer: The model of Big Ben beside the road in rural Cheshire

The tower, completed last weekend, is the latest straw sculpture dreamt up by an ice cream firm to celebrate the arrival of our so-called summer.

‘Straw Ben’ now stands proudly beside the A51 between Nantwich and Chester. It is built around a steel frame and is 70ft tall – almost a quarter of the size of the real thing beside the Thames.

‘It is 150 years since Big Ben was built so we wanted to commemorate the occasion,’ said Chris Sadler, 56, a director of the Nantwich-based company Snugburys.

2008: This straw windmill, which also illuminated at night, proved a tourist draw last year

2007: A replica of the Jodrell Bank telescope, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the dawn of the space age and weighing in at six tonnes

‘It looks stunning and is particularly impressive at night when it is floodlit and the clock face lights up.’

The firm’s previous sculptures have included the Jodrell Bank space telescope, the London Eye, the Angel of the North and the Millennium Dome.

Mr Sadler went on: ‘The sculpture was completed on Saturday and will stay up until after Christmas.

2006: This so-called ‘Snugnick’ rocket measured 50ft

2005: A replica of the London Eye, this earned the duo praise from the architects of the original

‘The clock face is about two metres wide and is an exact working copy of the real thing.

‘It costs a lot of money so we have a fence around it with security manning it. There is also an alarm which is activated if anyone tries to climb up it.’

Mr Sadler’s ice cream parlour has also had Big Ben-shaped cones made to coincide with the project.

He explained that a percentage of the sale of the cones would go towards the charity Kids Company, which helps vulnerable inner-city children.

2004: The iconic Angel of the North – holding an ice-cream cone, and with Chris posing in front

2003: Dubbed ‘The Coneastrawus’, this straw dinosaur was a hit with children

1999: Chris poses in front of his version of the Millennium Dome, as it was then called. Measuring 300ft x 50ft, it took ten hours and 350 bales of hay to build