28 October 2005

Long Weekend - Clocks Go Back

Oh, okay, so the weekend will only be one hour longer in the UK, but at this point on a Friday, the concept of an extra hour in bed this coming Monday is blissful.

Clocks go back an hour, at midnight this Sunday 30 October.

BST (British Standard Time) was invented in 1907 by a London Builder, 50 year old Mr William Willett who complained that in the summer the UK was in daylight in the morning while people still slept, yet almost in darkness as they returned home from work, losing the country valuable work hours.

He suggested 20 minute jumps in timekeeping - four increments every Sunday in April and four corresponding reductions in September. He even calculated the amount of money that this would save the country, two and a half million pounds at that time, taking into account the loss of revenue to 'providers of artificial light'. He then created a pamphlet outlining his theories and circulated it to businesses and organisation, town councils and many Members of Parliament. Mr Willett had quite a passion for the subject, it seems.

The resultant Daylight Saving Bill was put together in 1909, but the concept was ridiculed until war broke out.

William Willett died aged 58, in 1915, but in April 1916 Daylight Saving Time was introduced in the UK as a wartime economy. Within a week or so, most countries (both allied and enemy) adopted the same strategy and although it was almost universally dropped again straight after the war, very soon many countries re-adopted it and even tried to set the clocks permanently one hour forward from pre-war timekeeping.

In 1968 in the UK, Daylight Saving Time was renamed British Standard time and for just over four years we lived by it, constantly. The effect this had on Scottish schoolchildren, going out of the house in pitch darkness in the winter months, caused the year round BST to be abandoned in 1972, at which point the UK took up two standards - BST for the summer and the traditional GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) for the winter.

Now I think, I seem to recall the hullaballoo in the newspapers and on TV about which standard to keep. I was 11 when the dual standard was finally adopted, but to be honest it never really sunk in and I got it mixed up with the subsequent and ongoing biennial arguments that changing the time overnight causes road accidents.

As to living under one timeframe or the other prior to that - I completely missed it. I slept through any changes and if any fuss was made in our house, it didn't involve me.

I do remember our senior school headmistress had an annual assembly topic on bedtime - all students should be asleep by 9pm! You need your sleep to take full advantage of your academic opportunities! Blah, blah etc. I have to wonder how few parents these days get away with tucking their under 16s (or their under 11s for that matter) in to bed before midnight.


P.S. Feel like the clocks should have gone back already? You're right! Traditionally the jump was made on the fourth Sunday in October. I don't know how the European Commission came to have any say in this but this year and last, they decided it should be the last Sunday in October, and in 2004 and 2005 there have been five Sundays in the month. Poor Huddersfield Council.

11 comments:

Annie said...

That was really interesting. I've never even thought about how it happened, but it's fascinating to know. I could never remember whether the clocks went backwards or forwards, until someone said "Spring forward, fall back". *Hugs*
P.S. You seem to have a pop-up called Rednova, about health issues.

Universal Soldier said...

I wish someone would explain the concept to my children - how do you explain to a five year old that they have to stay in bed an extra hour?!

jane said...

How interesting. Our clocks go back 1 hour too on Sunday. It seems rather ridiculous though, because it's already getting darker earlier. At least here, it makes it get dark around 4:30, which is too early.

Ms Mac said...

Sadly, the day the clocks go back one hour has always been my most favourite day of the year!

Ms Mac said...

Oh, and our clocks go back as well!

Sam Freedom said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Cheryl said...

Internet stalking with insults, Sam Freedom?
You agreed not to comment here, so please don't.
I have kept and will keep all the email notifications of your posts. There are laws against this, not to mention 50,000 or so other bloggers you could be harrassing instead of me. Go read something else.

Library Lady said...

I wish they'd wait another week--but they always manage to have it go pitch dark early right around Halloween.

On the other hand, the darkness tends to trigger a great deal of seasonal affective depression in people (including me sometimes) so at least it's the season for lots of CHOCOLATE!

Badaunt said...

I always wondered why they didn't use Daylight Savings in Japan, where in summer the sun rises at a ludicrously early hour, like around 4am. I thought they'd never used it, until an old guy told me that just after the war they did, for a while, and it didn't work because everybody complained about the overtime they were having to do. You can't go home from work while it's still light, see. You have to stay until dark.

(Just another thing about this culture that makes me want to collectively slap EVERYBODY.)

Ayannali said...

I am glad that the clocks are changing in the US and the UK at the same time this year. It always confused me for that week/week and a half before when one country changed and the other didn't

Alexander said...
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