Go to Top

Why Do The Clocks Change?

Wiliam WilletThere is still dispute over who was the first person to put forth the idea that we observe what is now known as Daylight Saving Time (DST).

In the United Kingdom (UK) they have recognised daylight saving since 1916 when a builder called William Willet, based in London but originally from Kent who perceived that mornings during the Summer were being wasted while the public slept. William Willet campaigned for the clocks to go forward so that time wasn’t wasted in the mornings and was instead gained in the afternoons.

In 1907 he documented these changes in a pamphlet which was called “The Waste of Daylight” and began distributing it amongst the public, campaigning vigorously until he died in 1915;. In 1916 the government decided to finally recognise that a change was need and introduce what we now know as British Summer Time (BST). It is believed that the changes were finally implemented due to the need to save daylight and because during the war Germany and her allies used daylight saving time to reduce the amount of coal used in the Winter. Britain soon had to match Germany’s habits to make sure that times used in secret messages intercepted by British intelligence could not be confused when on the battle fields.

The UK weren’t the first nation in the world to recognise daylight saving time officially; ancient civilizations had been adjusting their ancient clocks a long time before a formal system was ever recognised. Its not surprising to hear that the Romans, who in Rome used water clock, used different scales on their clocks depending on the season.

Another story suggests that Benjamin Franklin (though anonymously at the time) wrote and sent a letter to the inhabitants of Paris suggesting that candles needed to saved by getting out of bed earlier and capitalising on the hours of daylight available. Franklin didn’t formerly propose what is known in the modern day as DST his letters did cause the residents of Paris to begin the rationing of candles. They also began taxing shutters on windows and going as far as waking public by ringing bells in the streets of Paris early in the mornings.

Even before William Willet began his campaigning for DST in the UK a New Zealander called George Vernon Hudson who worked shifts, in 1895 wrote a paper for the Wellington Philosophical Society in which he proposed a two hour day-light saving shift change. This was only formerly followed up in Christchurch New Zealand in 1898. And so it is widely believed that William Willet is in fact wrongly endorsed with suggesting that we observe what is now known formerly as daylight saving time, even though his “idea” was independently conceived of George Vernon Hudson’s paper of 1895.