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Goodbye British Summertime

October 2013

Don’t forget - British Summertime ends on Saturday 27th October.

At 2am on Sunday October 28th our clocks go back one hour to 1am. Today many electronic systems are geared to automatically change their time. For those that need to do some manual changing, most of us will change our clocks either the night before when we go to bed, or early the next day. But wherever we live in the UK, all of us will gain an extra hour as we move on from British Summer Time to Greenwich Mean Time.

We have been changing our clocks backwards and forwards in this country since 1916. The modern idea of daylight saving was actually first proposed in 1895 by London born New Zealander George Vernon Hudson.  The idea gained momentum in UK after a London builder wrote a pamphlet entitled The Waste of Daylight in 1907.  He had noticed that the early daylight hours of summer mornings were being wasted while people slept. There was a great deal of discussion but finally the British Government adopted the system during the First World War in the same year as Germany and Austria-Hungary.

This all changed during the Second World War. In 1940 Britain made a decision to keep British Summer Time for the winter, but to turn the clocks forward every spring so that the summers would be two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. This was called British Double Summer Time and there was a lot of discussion as to whether this should remain after the war. But in July 1945 the clocks were brought back to the traditional timing of GMT for the winter and one hour ahead for the summer months.

A few years ago Tory MP Rebecca Harris put forward a bill not to turn our clocks back in autumn, but to bring British Summer Time in force for the entire year.  The theory was that this would bring us more in line with Europe, giving us economic advantages.  Europe generally follows Central European Time, which is one hour ahead of GMT In winter and two hours ahead in summer.

Also, if we had an extra hour of daylight in the evening, it was argued that there would be a significant saving in electricity bills, a cut in CO2 emissions, less seasonally adjusted depression and fewer people would have a feeling that a day’s work was over as it gets dark soon after 3pm. But of course this was countered by problems about getting up in the dark and children walking to school in gloomy dark conditions.

In Scotland, there are different arguments as talk continues about their own specific problems due to the longer lengths in the far north of daylight hours in summer and dark hours in winter. Then of course some people say it doesn’t matter what anyone does because we get the same total amount of daylight hours whatever the clock says.

Not all countries use daylight saving. For instance, China experimented with the idea but abandoned it in 1992 and now uses one time zone for the entire country.

The main thing is to ensure you really are on the right time for the right location. No doubt there will be some people that will learn with a shock on Sunday October 29th that they have got up and dressed a whole hour earlier than they need have done!


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