Now that spring is definitely finally here in the UK, just to confuse things we’re about to move into summertime – well, British Summer Time (or BST). So don’t forget to put your clocks forward one hour this weekend!

Crowds gather round the Shepherd gate clock at the Royal Observatory Greenwich. Installed in 1852, it was the first ever to show Greenwich Mean Time directly to the public. People gather round the Shepherd gate clock at the entrance to the Royal Observatory Greenwich. Installed in 1852, it was the first clock ever to show Greenwich Mean Time directly to the public.

 

The official start time of BST is 1.00 a.m. on Sunday 29 March 2015. At this precise moment, civil time changes from Coordinated Universal Time (effectively the same as Greenwich Mean Time) to British Summer Time, aka daylight saving time. Though of course many of us will probably jump the gun slightly and change our clocks and watches before going to bed on Saturday evening. Which is fine. Unfortunately the clocks changing does mean we all get a shorter weekend by one hour. But on the plus side we can enjoy the lighter evenings, and look forward to an extra hour in bed in October when the clocks change back again.

The history of daylight saving time

Benjamin Franklin first suggested the idea of daylight saving time, in a whimsical article in 1784. But it wasn't till 1907 that an Englishman, William Willett, actually campaigned to advance clocks in spring and summer and return them in the autumn. His rather complicated plan was to advance clocks by 80 minutes, in 4 separate moves of 20 mins each. In 1908 the House of Commons rejected a Bill to advance the clocks by one hour during the spring and summer months. Eight years later, the Summer Time Act 1916 was passed, ordaining that for a certain period during the year legal time should be one hour in advance of GMT. Double summer time (GMT + 2 hours) was used during the Second World War. Find out more about the interesting history of BST and daylight saving time in our British Summer Time fact file.