Here’s when clocks change in October and why we have British Summer Time

Here is when the clocks go back
Here is when the clocks go back
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We’ll soon need to go around the house adjusting our timepieces when the clocks go back one hour at the end of October – don’t worry, your smartphone should update itself.

But we will get a dreamy extra hour in bed (unless you use that time to change your clocks).

Anyway, this is why we get that hour – and why it’s sometimes cruelly taken away:

When will the clocks go back?

28 October 2018. For future reference, it always takes place on the last Sunday in October. The clocks will go back one hour at 2am, so sweet dreams.

This will mean Portsmouth and the rest of the UK is on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), which is the standard time zone against which all other time zones in the world are referenced.

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The reason it happens on a weekend, in the middle of the night, is to limit the disruption for schools and businesses.

When do the clocks go forward?

On the last Sunday in March – this year it was 25 March – the clocks go forwards one hour at 1am, starting the period of British Summer Time (BST) aka Daylight Saving Time (DST).

This gives us more daylight in the evenings. And one less hour in bed.

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Why do we bother changing the clocks?

Initially it was rolled out to save energy and get people outside. Why waste electricity when there is perfectly good daylight to be used?

The campaign for British Summer Time came about at the beginning of the 20th century. Moving the clocks forward in the summer months would give us darker mornings but lighter, longer evenings.

The idea was proposed in Britain by builder William Willett, says Dr Richard Dunn, senior curator for the History of Science at the Royal Observatory Greenwich.

Willett was ‘incensed at the “waste” of useful daylight during the summer. Though the sun had been up for hours as he rode his horse through Chislehurst and Petts Wood, people were still asleep in bed.’

British Summer Time was adopted in Britain in 1916 to save fuel and money.

Since then, Britain toyed with moving the clocks a number of times, including bringing them forward two hours ahead of GMT during the Second World War. They were also brought forward for periods in the spring of 1947, in line with fuel shortages.

There was an experiment, between 1968 and 1971, which kept clocks one hour ahead of GMT all year round.

Britain then reverted to our now familiar system of GMT in the winter and summer time in between March and October.

The clock-changing campaign

The idea of some sort of DST was first floated by Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the US, in 1784. He wanted to save on candle usage and get people out of bed earlier.

More than one hundred years later, in 1895, New Zealand entomologist George Vernon Hudson suggested clocks be put forward two hours in the summer.

Clock-changing in Britain was spearheaded by builder William Willett – the great-great-grandfather of Coldplay’s Chris Martin.

The House of Commons essentially gave clock-changing its seal of approval in 1916 – the year after Willett passed away.

Is British Summer Time a good thing?

Well, no one seems to complain about the aforementioned extra hour in bed in the autumn.

But some are campaigning for British time to be brought in line with other European countries to reduce accidents. This would make it two hours ahead of GMT in the summer and one hour ahead in the winter.

Nick Lloyd, road safety manager for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), said: ‘The clocks going back is a pivotal point in the year for road users, particularly cyclists and pedestrians, as there is less daylight in the evening at a time when with the weather is worsening.

‘The statistics are clear – accidents and injuries can be reduced if we move to Single/Double Summer Time, and that is why RoSPA is urging the Government to take a fresh look at this issue and help save lives.’

Others want to forego turning the clocks back in October.

‘One of the main reasons against keeping British Summer Time all year round, which would mean not putting the clocks back in October, concerns people in Scotland, where sunrise might not be until as late as 10am,’ says Dr Dunn.

‘Among other things, this would mean children travelling to and from school in darkness, putting them at greater risk. Lighter mornings in the winter are also better for postal workers and those in construction and farming, who typically begin work much earlier than many others.’

Others say we spend so much time inside – in offices, for instance – that daylight saving no longer really matters.

This article originally appeared on our sister website i News.