Towards the end of October is when the clocks go back, but why does it happen?

Initially Benjamin Franklin, inventor and one of the founding fathers of the United States brought the idea to the light while he was on a trip to Paris during 1794. He theorised that if people got up earlier, when it was lighter outside it would be more efficient as it would save on candles. However, it was not until 1907 where a builder called William Willett thought to make the idea known.

William Willett published a leaflet called 'The waste of Daylight' which encouraged people to put the clocks forward 80 minutes during April and put it back 80 minutes in September. This way we could save on lighting costs as there would be more daylight to allow for recreational activities. Willett had a thorough campaign in 1908 trying (and managing) to get various MPs on his side. At first, the idea never came into fruition. 

It was not until WW1 where coal consumption had to be kept low that Britain was considering it and by that point Germany had already implemented the idea. It was 1916, a year after Willett's death, when Britain adopted his ideas. Back then it was a wartime production-boosting device under the Defence of the Realm Act. From then other countries followed suit.

What are the benefits to changing the clocks?

The benefits to changing clocks twice a year are:

  • Reducing energy consumption for environmental reasons
  • Having longer evenings to support leisure and tourism
  • Encouraging people to exercise more outdoors
  • Reducing road accidents.

These points are still argued today, some say changing the clocks are actually negative for some countries and people working certain jobs. For example, in some warmer regions having longer evenings might increase energy consumption due to having air-conditioning on longer. Another argument that changing the clocks is redundant because of the many light sources we have everywhere, the amount of sunlight makes little difference.

Of course, it does not matter which side of the argument you are on, everybody loves and extra hour of sleep! (Unless you are on night shifts that is)    

The clocks will go back to GMT on : Sunday 25th October at 2.00am