When you think about London, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? For 80% of people, it’s Big Ben. The Elizabeth Tower, formerly named the Clock Tower, is London’s main sightseeing attraction visited by thousands of tourists every year.
The Clock Tower was officially renamed as the Elizabeth Tower in 2012 to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. The Great Bell of the clock weighs over 13 tons, and it acquired the nickname of Big Ben which was extended as a reference to the clock tower itself.
The foundation was laid the tower which would house the largest clock in the world at the time on 28th September 1843. The tower was completed in 1859.
The 96 meter (315 ft) tall structure remains to be the largest clock in Great Britain and also the largest four-faced chiming clock in the world.
The tower was built in the place where a part of the Palace of Westminster got accidentally burnt during a fire in 1860.
The government held a design contest, in which Charles Barry was selected over 96 others.
The Clock Tower was incorporated with help from another architect, Augustus Pugin. The Queen’s Clockmaker, Benjamin Lewis Vuillamy was the first to start designing the clock.
Edward John Dent took over with the help of an amateur clockmaker (and professional lawyer) Edmund Beckett Denison. The Big Ben was installed in 1859.
The Origin Of The Name
There are various theories to explain from where Big Ben was derived. One of them is from a very tall politician and engineer in those days in Britain, Benjamin Hall. He was also the First Commissioner of Works during whose tenure the bell was cast for the first time.
Another theory says it is named after Benjamin Caunt, a heavy weight professional boxer. Big Ben also has several alternative names, including Big Tom, The Great Westminster Clock, Clock Tower, and the most recent Elizabeth Tower.
The Big Ben has one main huge bell, which is the actual Big Ben or the Great Bell of Westminster, and four small bells. The Great Bell rings once every hour, and the four small bells chime every 15 minutes.