October – Fall back for clocks

At the end of this month we will be putting our clocks and watches back an hour and darker evenings will be upon us.
Most people regret this as they would prefer lighter evenings to go about their daily tasks and to be able to go out in the evening while it is still daylight. And we certainly seem to have more time in the long light days of summer to follow hobbies and pursuits.

People ask why we do “mess about” with our time and why we could we not have British Summer Time all year-round leaving clocks one hour forward.

The UK did this in the Autumn of 1968 and continued doing this until 1971.

I recall my time as a young woman going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark and it was pretty miserable! At the time, children had to go to school in the dark and most were kitted out with hi-viz vests.

The original idea for moving our time back and forward was that of a builder William Willett who noticed that people still had their curtains drawn when it was daylight at 3am and he campaigned for clocks to be put forward during summer months.

Eventually his campaign resulted in an Act of Parliament introducing British Summer Time (originally called Daylight Saving Time) in 1916. Unfortunately, poor William Willett had died by then.

During the last World War we had Double Summer Time to not only cut down on the hours of blackout but also to conserve energy. So clocks went back twice and forward twice in the year. However, in 1947 when the country was short of coal, its main energy source, it was reintroduced for that year.

With the current shortage and high cost of energy, perhaps it is time to again reintroduce British Double Summer Time?

In the Spring clocks could go forward an hour at the end of February and again in at the end of March, and in the Autumn go back an hour at the end of September and again at the end of October.

However, whether or not we do have Double Summer Time, I do think that there is a case for at least a slight amendment in that instead of clocks going forward the last weekend in March it should be during the last weekend of February. Indeed in 1916 it was the last weekend in February.

We all know that the shortest day is the 21st December that is the day when we have the least daylight hours. But during the run-up to the 21st and afterwards, daylight is not evenly distributed between evening and morning. Evenings are darker sooner at least ten or eleven days before the 21st and the sun rises later for a further ten or eleven days afterwards.

Our darkest evenings are at the end of November and beginning of December and our darkest mornings are the end of December and beginning of January. That is why Christmas and the Festive Season mornings are dark.

But I hear the cries of those who follow my argument that the shortest day would not be equidistant between the two daylight zones but nor is it at the moment.

Clocks going forward earlier at the end of February would enable most of those who go out to work to get up in the daylight and travel in daylight. And it would save on a month’s worth of energy costs.

An earlier date for clock going forward would give all of us more evening daylight hours to see the Spring snowdrops, crocus and early daffodils and Winter may not seem to be so long.

The clocks go back at 2am on Sunday 30th October 2022.


This post was written by Elizabeth Nash

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