History of Daylight Savings: Why Do the Clocks Go Forward?

• Written by Katie

As the last Sunday of March approaches, it is nearly time to move our clocks forward. Whilst this means that we will lose an hour of rest, the changing of the clocks means that summer is right around the corner. Known both as daylight savings time and British summer time, this event happens every year. But why do our clocks go forward, and what’s the history behind our shifting time zone?

Why Do We Have Daylight Savings?

In 1916, as a response to Germany’s decision to implement daylight savings to reduce energy use in World War One, the UK made their clocks go forward as well. Similarly, it was to save energy and resources, and in doing so, aid the war effort. However, this was not the first time the idea was proposed in England. Almost 10 years prior, in 1908, a bill was proposed to make the clocks go forward over summer to provide more daylight hours after work. However, it was deemed unnecessary and eventually rejected.

Like the UK, many European countries have been using daylight savings since WW1, but it wasn’t until 1996 that the EU standardised daylight savings across all EU nations. This means that all EU countries now make their clocks go forward by one hour on the last Sunday of March.

What is British Double Summer Time?

There have been unusual moments in history where the UK made clocks go forward by two hours. These events are called British Double Summer Time. The first happened during World War Two. In 1940, to help save energy for the war effort, the UK’s time zone was permanently moved forward by one hour. However, daylight savings was still being observed over this period, meaning that in summer the UK’s clocks still went forward by an additional hour. This lasted until July 1945, when clocks were brought back by a single hour. British Summer Time then ended in October of the same year, and the clocks went back to standard time.

Very soon after, during the summer of 1947, the UK decided to have clocks go forward by two hours again. This was in an effort to mitigate the severe fuel shortages affecting the country at the time. They did this by starting British Summer Time as usual in March, then putting clocks forward an additional hour in April. When summer ended, they brought clocks back an hour in August, followed by a final hour in November.

Is the UK Getting Rid of Daylight Savings Time?

Discussions to stop the clocks going forward have come up frequently throughout the years. There are valid reasons to keep daylight savings as it is, and to stop clocks going forwards permanently, but little movement has been made regarding changes. In 2019, the European parliament voted in favour of stopping daylight savings time in EU countries. However, EU nations must decide whether to stat in their usual time zone or move the clocks forward one last time. Unfortunately, with the advent and urgency of the global pandemic, no agreements have been made and discussions have stalled.

Now that the UK has left the EU, our parliament can independently decide whether to observe daylight savings time or not. When asked about this in 2021, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it’s ‘unlikely’ the UK would stop the clocks going forward anytime soon.

If the UK did decide to stop the clocks going forward, it wouldn’t be the first time. As a test during the years of 1968 and 1971m the UK stayed an hour ahead permanently. However, the change proved unpopular. As a result, the usual pattern of daylight savings was returned for the following year.

What Countries Observe Daylight Savings?

For all the countries across the world that observe daylight savings, there are many more that don’t. The image above highlights areas that observe daylight savings. As a brief overview, the largest regions that observe daylight savings are: EU member nations, New Zealand, most of North America, and parts of Australia.

Currently, in the USA, politicians are pushing to keep the clocks forward personally. On March 15th, 2022, the Senate approved the Sunshine Protection Act. If it is signed into effect by President Joe Biden, daylight savings will permanently remain in effect.

Confidence at Home from LifeConnect24

Boosting your confidence with a Lifeline personal alarm is easier than changing your clocks.

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Finally, be sure to read through our blog for more helpful and interesting content.

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