Just a reminder that the clocks will go back by an hour at 2:00am on Sunday 29th October.
It’s that time of year again, when we all struggle to remember if the clocks go forward or back. So here’s everything you need to know about the autumn time change so that you don’t accidentally arrive at work an hour early … which would be terrible!
When do the clocks go back?
On Sunday, 29th October at 2:00am, the UK will revert to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) by going back one hour, to 1:00am. This marks the official end of British Summer Time. A clever way to remember the hour-change rule is “Spring forward, Fall back”. Easy!
Daylight Saving: Whose idea was it?
A man called William Willett introduced the idea of British Summer Time, also known as Daylight Saving Time, in 1907. He wanted to prevent people from wasting valuable hours of light during summer mornings.
He published a pamphlet called ‘The Waste of Daylight’ in a bid to get people out of bed earlier by changing the nation’s clocks.
Willett proposed that the clocks should be advanced by 80 minutes in four incremental steps during April and reversed the same way during September.
Willett then spent the rest of his life trying to convince people his scheme was a good one. Sadly, he died of the flu in 1915 at the age of 58; a year before Germany adopted his clock-changing plan on April 30th, 1916 when the clocks were put forward at 11:00pm.
Britain followed suit a month later on May 21st.
By then, Britain and Germany had been fighting each other in the First World War (1914-18), and a system that could take pressure off the economy was worth trying.
The Summer Time Act of 1916 was quickly passed by Parliament and the first day of British Summer Time, 21st May 1916, was widely reported in the press.
Back then, the hands on many of the clocks could not be turned back without breaking the mechanism.
Instead, owners had to put the clock forward by 11 hours when Summer Time came to an end on October 1st 1916.
The Home Office put out special posters telling people how to reset their clocks to GMT, and national newspapers also gave advice.
What’s the reason for turning the clocks back?
Supporters of the proposal argued that such a scheme could reduce domestic coal consumption and increase the supplies available for manufacturing and the war effort during the First World War.
The idea was not a new one, however. In 1895 an entomologist (or insect expert) in New Zealand, George Vernon Hudson, came up with the idea to the Wellington Philosophical Society outlining a daylight saving scheme which was trialled successfully in the country in 1927.
Willett, who died at his home near Bromley in Kent, is commemorated for his efforts by a memorial sundial in nearby Petts Wood, set permanently to Daylight Saving Time.
The Daylight Inn in Petts Wood is named in his honour, and there’s a road there called Willett Way.
Will I get a lie in?
Yes! Relish those extra 60 minutes in bed. The mornings will also be lighter, however the evenings will be darker.
(However, despite the prevalence of smartphones and other devices which alter the time for you automatically, there will always be one person you know who didn’t get the memo.)
How dark does the UK get in winter?
In the UK, the maximum 16 hours and 50 minutes of sunlight – on the longest day in June (the summer solstice) – dwindles to just seven hours and 40 minutes six months later in December (the winter solstice).
When will the infernal darkness end…?
We won’t see lighter nights again until Sunday 31st March 2024, when the clocks will wind forward again at 1:00am, and British Summer Time begins.
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