Marking the start of British Summer Time, the clocks go forward in March, meaning we'll lose an hour's sleep

In spring 2018 the clocks go forward on 25 March at 1am

On the last Sunday of March the clocks 'spring forward': they go forward by one hour. There may still be a chill in the air but this marks the beginning of British Summer Time (BST). This will mean an hour less in bed.

When do the clocks go back?

Why do the clocks go forward?

The clocks go forward to change from Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) to British Summer Time, which is one hour ahead of this. The clocks go back for the summer because of a campaign at the beginning of the 20th Century to change the clocks during the summer months to avoid wasting time in the morning.

Will my phone automatically update the time?

Most devices with internet connection, such as smart phones, should automatically update themselves. However, watches and clocks in cars and kitchens, for example, won't change automatically so make sure you are ready to wind forward.

Summer Solstice Sunrise over Stonehenge
Summer Solstice Sunrise over Stonehenge

History of daylight saving

1784 - Benjamin Franklin first suggested the idea of daylight saving time in a whimsical article.

1907 - An Englishman and keen horse rider, William Willett 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.

1908 - The House of Commons rejected a Bill to advance the clocks by one hour during the spring and summer months.

1916 - The Summer Time Act 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 history of British Summer Time and daylight saving time in the UK and around the world

“What happens during the lost hour?”

Image of The Lost Hour © Andrew Whyte
The Lost Hour © Andrew Whyte

Andrew Whyte's photo The Lost Hour was shortlisted for the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2017. He was inspired by the relationship between human methods of marking time (such as BST) and astronomical phenomena:

"I set out to explore what actually happens during that hour when the clocks "spring forward" to begin British Summer Time. With time so intrinsically linked to celestial activity, a one-hour star trail seemed the perfect metaphor.

I worked out my placement and posture within the frame and could faintly hear the click of the first camera's shutter, which gave me a reference for freezing my movement.

Back home, I merged 120 sky frames in StarStaX and layered that onto the RAW-processed foreground. As for the original question: what happens during the lost hour? The world keeps turning, just like before."

 

 

 

Clocks and watches at the Observatory shop

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Image of pocket watches at Royal Observatory