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Put your clocks back

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The clocks go back this weekend!

British clocks will revert to Greenwich Mean Time in the wee small hours of Sunday 30th October. 2 a.m. is the official moment.

You can't fail to have noticed the darker mornings and evenings and turning the clocks back gives us a little more sunlight first thing.

And on the day the clocks change we get an extra hour in bed. Though if you're anything like us, the body clock still says 'get up you lazy @*%!'

Here's everything you need to know about when and why the clocks go back: actually, it's probably a lot more than you really need to know, but I'm telling you anyway!


Clocks go back an hour on Sunday 30th October at 02.00 – it always occurs on the last Sunday of October.

We will then switch officially from British Summer Time (BST) to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) until the spring. GMT is the standard time zone against which all others in the world are referenced.

On most mechanical clocks or watches just wind the hands back one hour or forward eleven.

If you have a clock with a pendulum you have the option to stop the pendulum for one hour, and then restart it! When the pendulum is still, the hands won't move. But maybe there are better things to do at 2 a.m.

If you have a smartphone or any kind of device that requires the assistance of a twelve-year-old to operate, do nothing. The clock on it should automatically update.

Clocks in cars should be changed whilst stationary, but you won't remember until you're halfway up the M5 at 70mph and you think you're already late!

Clocks on ovens. Central heating? No idea!

That's it then. The official end of British Summer Time until Sunday March 26th 2023.

But why?

My – incorrect – assumption, was that this was all about farming. But no, it was originally introduced in 1916 during WWI as part of the Summer Time Act of that year. Politicians believed it would help reduce the demand for coal.

It had earlier been proposed by William Willet, the great-great-grandfather of Chris Martin. (Coldplay, remember the song Clocks?*) Reportedly he was annoyed that the earlier sunset interfered with his enjoyment of golf and campaigned for the clocks to go forward in spring so he could finish his afternoon game. His proposal, in a pamphlet called The Waste of Daylight published in 1907, was that the clocks go forward in spring and back in winter so that people could spend more time outdoors, thus saving energy. Daylight Saving Time!

Even earlier, in 1784, Benjamin Franklin touched on a similar idea in a satirical letter sent to the editor of the Journal of Paris. Franklin suggested that if people got up earlier when it was lighter it would make economic sense as it would save on candles. You can see his point!

The ancient Romans also followed a practice in order to use their time efficiently during the day. Whilst a day consisted of twelve hours, an hour was equal to one twelfth of the time between sunrise and sunset. Therefore, depending on the season and the latitude an hour varied from 45 minutes to 75 minutes duration.

I'm rather glad I'm not an ancient Roman trying to figure that one out!

* Despite trying my best to distil some hidden reference to William Willet from the lyrics of the song, it seems there is no connection whatsoever!

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