Why do the clocks change?

·2-min read
 (iStock)
(iStock)

It’s official: spring is well and truly upon us, which means it’s time for the clocks to go forward.

While the arrival of winter brings darker mornings and evenings, turning the clocks back allows us to have more sunlight in the morning.

Plus, on the day the clocks change we get an extra hour in bed too, so we’re not complaining.

Here’s everything you need to know about when and why the clocks go back:

When do the clocks change in 2023?

The clocks move forward one hour at 1am on Sunday (26 March).

And looking ahead to the autumn, the clocks then go back an hour on Sunday October 29 at 1am.

Each year, the clocks go back an hour at 2am on the last Sunday of October.

When this occurs, the UK will switch from British Summer Time (BST) to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

If you have a smartphone or device, the clock on it should automatically update in the early morning.

The clocks went forward an hour on Sunday 27 March last year, which marked the beginning of British Summer Time.

Why do the clocks change?

Following summer solstice in June the days gradually become shorter.

Therefore, by turning the clocks back an hour during autumn, this provides people with more sunlight in the morning. Turning the clocks forward in the spring brings lighter evenings.

Why was Daylight Saving Time introduced?

British Summer Time was first introduced as part of the Summer Time Act of 1916.

William Willett, an Edwardian builder and the great-great-grandfather of Coldplay’s Chris Martin, had devised a campaign in which he proposed that the clocks go forward in spring and back in winter so that people could spend more time outdoors during the day and save energy, hence the term Daylight Saving Time.

Willett wrote about his proposal in a pamphlet called The Waste of Daylight, which was published in 1907.

The government later adopted his ideas in 1916 during World War I - a year after Willett died - as politicians believed it would help reduce the demand for coal.

While the Summer Time Act may have been established following Willett’s proposal, he wasn’t the first to put forward the idea of preserving daylight by changing the clocks.

In 1784, Benjamin Franklin wrote about a similar idea in a satirical letter sent to the editor of the Journal of Paris. In the letter, Franklin suggested if people got up earlier when it was lighter, it would make economic sense as it would save on candles.

The ancient Romans also followed a similar practice in order to use their time efficiently during the day.