Did you remember to alter your clocks last night?
The idea of using different time during the summer has a long history, Benjamin Franklin being among those to propose it. But the dual system of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) in the winter and British Summer Time (BST) in the summer was first mooted by William Willett, in a pamphlet published in 1907, entitled The Waste of Daylight. Willett wasn’t a scientist, but a builder — and also, as it happens, great-great grandfather of Coldplay’s singer, Chris Martin, not that he would have known it at the time.
He was also a keen golfer, and it was this that prompted his idea: he resented the fact that the early onset of dusk curtailed his game. He was successful in lobbying Liberal MP Robert Pearce to introduce the Daylight Saving Bill in 1908. The bill, though, was rejected by the House of Commons and Willett, who died of influenza in 1915, was to miss out on seeing his dream come true by one year.
Ultimately, daylight saving was introduced in Britain in 1916 to conserve energy and help the war effort rather than to appease frustrated golfers. Taking their lead from the Germans, the British moved their clocks forward by one hour between May 21st and October 1st. The move was so popular that BST has remained to this day, although the start and end dates — the last Sundays in March and October respectively — were only aligned across the European Union from October 22, 1995.