British Summer time is over…

When do the clocks go back?

British Summer Time (BST) this year will officially end on the last Sunday of October.

The clocks will go back one hour at 2am on October 30 as we return to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

GMT will then last until March 27, 2017 when the clocks will go forward an hour again.

Since October 1995, the start and finish of daylight saving time across the Europe Union has been aligned so that Central European Summer Time starts and ends on the same days as BST.

When and why did British Summer Time start?

The first ever BST started on May 21, 1916 and ran until October 1.

It was established by the Summer Time Act 1916 after a campaign by builder, William Willett, and later cemented by the Daylight Savings Act in 1925.

Willett used his own financial resources in 1907 to produce a pamphlet called ‘The Waste of Daylight’ to promote his idea that the clocks should be put forward by 80 minutes over four 20-minute stages on each Sunday in April, and then reversed the same way in September.

He suggested that this would make the evenings lighter for recreational activities and save on lighting costs.

He won the support of MPs Robert Pearce and Winston Churchill, and the proposal was looked into by a parliamentary select committee in 1909.

During the First World War the issue became more pressing as coal needed to be saved for the war effort.

Though a tireless campaigner, Willett did not live to see his idea adopted as he died in 1915 of influenza.

He is also the great-great-grandfather of Coldplay frontman, Chris Martin.

Why is changing the clocks considered controversial?

There is a hotly contested debate on how exactly we are affected by the changing of the clocks, with many suggesting that it’s bad for our health.

The immediate impact is to our bodies’ circadian rhythm. As we produce more of the important sleep hormone melatonin when it’s dark, the change can disrupt our sleep, particularly in the spring when we lose an hour in bed as the clocks go forward.

A 2009 study found that it can take up to three weeks to adjust to the change.

The change has also been linked to disruption to our metabolic rate and our immune systems.

Some studies have even reported increased numbers of heart attacks at the beginning of daylight saving and found that extending BST to last all year could decrease the number of car accidents.

There are currently a number of campaigns to change the way we alter the time, with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and environmental campaigners 10:10 suggesting operating BST all year round but adding an additional hour in the summer, effectively putting the UK in the same time zone as France and most other European countries.

The campaign says that such a change would save almost 500,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year and take 185,000 cars off the road permanently.

However, the idea is opposed by some in northerly parts of the country as this could mean that the Sun may not rise until 10am.

Others have also suggested keeping GMT all year round, instead adjusting school and business hours to fit in with the changing daylight hours.


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