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Archive for October 28th, 2011

Big BenBritish Summer Time ends: clocks go back – Why?

 

The clocks will go back by one hour at 2.00 am on Sunday 30 October. At 2.00 am, the clocks will return to 1.00 am as British Summer Time ends for another year.

British Summer Time

British Summer Time (BST) starts each year on the last Sunday in March and ends on the last Sunday in October. On Sunday 27 March the clocks will go forward, meaning we lose an hour. British Summer Time is due to end this year on 30 October.

BST is operational on the following dates:

  2011 2012 2013
Start of BST (clocks go forward) 27 March 25 March 31 March
End of BST (clocks go back) 30 October 28 October 27 October

Summer time changes on standard dates throughout the EU. Britain and Ireland constantly remain an hour behind most of Central Europe.

The history of daylight saving time

In 1907 an Englishman, William Willett, campaigned to advance clocks by 80 minutes. He proposed four moves of 20 minutes at the beginning of the spring and summer months, and to return to Greenwich Mean Time in a similar manner in the autumn. The following year, the House of Commons rejected a Bill to advance the clocks by one hour during the spring and summer months.

Summer time was first defined in an Act of Parliament in 1916. The clocks were moved one hour ahead of GMT from the spring to the autumn.

During the Second World War, double summer time (two hours in advance of GMT) was introduced, lasting until July 1945.

Since the 1980s, all parts of western and central Europe have co-ordinated the date and the time of their clock changes.

Why Change the Clocks?

Twice a year the clocks change, forward in the Spring and then back again in the Autumn. But why?

It happens twice a year. We all change our clocks and watches by one hour. In the spring, we add an hour, and go onto what is called British Summer Time, while in the autumn, we do the reverse, and adhere to Greenwich Mean Time.

Why bother?It’s all to do with saving the hours of daylight, and was started by a chap called William Willett, a London builder, who lived in Petts Wood in Kent.

Basically, he reckoned that you could improve the population’s health and happiness by putting forward the clocks by twenty minutes every Sunday in April and do the opposite in September.

EconomiesHis idea was not taken up, even though a ‘Daylight Saving Bill’ was introduced some five years before the outbreak of World War One. But once the war started, it was considered prudent to economise, to promote greater efficiency in using daylight hours, and in the use of artificial lighting. And so in 1916, ‘Daylight Saving Time’ was introduced.

Even though most countries abandoned this after that war, some eventually decided that it was a good idea, and most of these nations began to keep it throughout the year.

ExperimentSince 1972, Britain has decided to go with Greenwich Mean Time in winter, and British Summer Time in Summer. But back in 1968, Britain tried a four-year experiment by advancing time one hour ahead of GMT throughout the year.

But those living further north, particularly in Scotland, found it most unsatisfactory, with dark mornings for much of the year, and the experiment was dropped.

But the arguments rage on….and on.

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