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Salón del Fumador Big Ben

The Big Ben name

The iconic clock tower at the north end of the Palace of Westminster has been featured in many films and is perhaps London’s greatest landmark. It was designed by English architect Augustus Pugin. Many people refer to the tower itself as Big Ben, although this is actually the name of the great bell inside the tower.

In the 19th century, when the clock tower was built, Big Ben was the largest bell in Britain, with a total weight over 13 tonnes. There are a few theories about the origin of the Big Ben name. One is that it was named after civil engineer Sir Benjamin Hall, who oversaw the installation of the bell inside the tower.

Another theory is that the Big Ben name comes from a boxing champion known as Benjamin Caunt, who went by the nickname Big Ben and who was very popular in the mid-19th century.

Yet another theory goes that, during a long meeting over the naming of the bell in the House of Commons, and after a long speech someone shouted out “Why not call it Big Ben?

As stated earlier, Big Ben is actually the name of a bell. However, it was in the same House of Commons more than a century later that the tower itself was renamed to “Elizabeth Tower”, in order to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of the queen.

In the end though, and regardless of the colourful story of the origin of the Big Ben name, the clock tower in London is an icon in popular culture and one of the greatest tourist attractions in Britain.

Clock tower (rightmost)

Palace of Westminster, Big Ben clock tower (right)

Note: Big Ben Canarias S.L. is not related to the aforementioned clock tower. The text above is an informative clarification of the origin of Big Ben.

Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0