The century old system of moving our clocks forwards in March and back in October may be coming to an end. 


Biannually changing clocks is often seen as a nuisance and unimportant in our modern world. The concept was first introduced in 1907 by the British builder William Willet, who wrote a pamphlet campaigning to save daylight ('The Waste Of Daylight'), his main reason being that the UK looses out on the early morning summer sun: “Standard time remains so fixed, that for nearly half the year the sun shines upon the land, for several hours each day while we are asleep..”, “..the clear bright light of early morning during Spring and Summer months, is so seldom seen or used.” Nine years later during WW1, Daylight-Saving Time was brought into place to save electricity which in turn cut down the use of coal of which there was a shortage. The system continued after the war, as it got people out of bed closer to sunrise during summer and meant there was more sunlight during after work hours. In addition, the clocks changing back at the end of October for winter, meant that less winter mornings were spent in darkness. This was of most importance for farmers and other outdoor workers. 

With new technology and a much smaller percentage of the work force being in farming it might be time for a change. In 2018, the EU voted to abolish the system by the end of 2021, however, primarily due to COVID and Brexit, the plans have been put on hold. Yet this isn't the first time one has tried to change the system. In 1968 to 1971 the UK stayed in Daylight-Saving Time for three years as a trial. It resulted in a slight decrease in overall traffic accidents, but was discontinued due to unpopularity in the north of the UK where the winter days are shorter than in the south. However, much has changed in the last 50 years and if the UK did another trial it could prove more or less successful.

The biggest upside to staying in Daylight-Saving Time all year round would be brighter winter evenings, which could decrease traffic accidents in the evening, have a positive effect on mental health, lower vitamin D deficiency rates and improve the well being of British people overall. On the other hand, being permanently in BST would mean much darker winter mornings, which may have negative impacts on mental health aswell and traffic accident rates during the morning commute.

The debate may go on, but for now it appears the UK will continue to change the clocks twice a year and on the 31st of October we will be moving our clocks back an hour to Greenwich Mean Time.