There is a myth that altering the time to allow for more daylight during the “waking” hours was the idea of King Edward VII who wanted to maximise the hours during which he could hunt boar and deer. However this is exactly  that…a myth.

British Summer Time also known as Daylight Saving Time was the brainchild of a builder from Kent called William Willett. Willett had noticed that as the seasons change and the daylight hours altered accordingly the number of workers who were still asleep during the summers early daylight hours and were having to work during winters dark mornings was not productive.

He therefore suggested adapting the time to better fit the daylight hours. Originally proposed as a series of four twenty minute alterations rather than the one hour change we currently adopt.

Willett was relentless in his belief that altering the daylight hours would result in better health, increased recreation time and improved productivity but, despite some support from local MPs his proposal fell short of being made law when presented to the House of Lords in 1908.

Willetts pamphlet, a Waste Of Daylight, was used throughout his vigorous campaigning but it was not until 1916 that his idea finally became law. Sadly William Willett died of the flu in 1915 aged 58 and never lived to see his daylight saving ideas turn into reality.

William Willett’s pamphlet A Waste Of Daylight

William Willett’s pamphlet A Waste Of Daylight

Interestingly in 1916 upon its introduction people were advised to put their clocks forward by 11 hours rather than turning the hands back an hour, as in those days this would break the mechanism.

Currently most of Europe also change their clocks by one hour, although this is set to end in 2021. In addition America, Australia and New Zealand adopt a similar policy albeit at different  times of the year to ourselves.

Several attempts to amend or repeal British Summer Time have been brought to the House of Commons in recent years, however currently the UK retains the system first advocated back in the Edwardian era by William Willett.

…and the connection with Coldplay’s lead vocalist Chris Martin? William Willett was his great great grandfather.

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