On the top of Elizabeth’s Tower, 320 feet, the famous Big Ben clock rang for the first time on 31 May 1859 above the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London.
After the catastrophic fire at Westminster Palace, the headquarters of the British Parliament, in October 1834, a large clock on a tower was a prominent feature of the plan for the new palace. Sir George Erie, a royal astronomer, wanted the clock to be accurate, including checking twice a day with the Royal Greenwich Observatory. Although many watchmakers ruled out this goal, he enlisted the help of Edmund Beckett Denison, an expert in mathematics or a well-known lawyer for the science of the time.
The name “Big Ben” was originally used for the bell but later referred to the clock itself. There are two main stories about how Big Ben got its name. Many say it was built because of Sir Benjamin Hall, who is well known as the Commissioner of Work in London. Another well-known story argues that the bell was named after the famous heavyweight boxer Benjamin Knott because it was one of the biggest. Elizabeth Tower survived the bombing of the House of Commons during World War II, and Big Ben continued to work. A stack of coins placed on the watch’s large pendulum controls its publicly accurate timelines, ensuring the constant movement of the watch’s hands at all times. At night, all four faces of the 23-foot-wide clock light up. A light will also be lit above Big Ben to let the public know when Parliament is in session.