This morning millions of Britons will engage in a familiar routine. Bleary-eyed we’ll get out of bed and adjust the clocks around the house, bringing them forward by an hour.
The origin of this annual ritual can be traced to a Chislehurst builder named William Willett. At the turn of the 20th Century Willett was riding his horse early one sunny spring morning over the Commons. He noticed that shutters and blinds on the houses were still drawn long after the sun had risen and thought this was a waste of daylight.
In 1907 he wrote a pamphlet, The Waste of Daylight, proposing that clocks be advanced. Wind forward 18 years, a world war and his own untimely death, and the 1925 Summer Time Act was introduced.
But some 86 years on, should we continue moving the clocks forward and back?
There is already a strong lobby to keep British Summer Time which would mean sunnier evenings (but darker mornings). There are suggestions that the Government may soon open a public consultation on the subject. If it does, then now is the time to review the legacy of the Chislehurst builder.
How Chislehurst recognises the inventor of Daylight Saving
Willett and his legacy is marked with a blue plaque on the wall of his house, The Cedars; there is a gravestone at St Nicholas churchyard; and the Willett Memorial is set deep in Willett Wood. He has also been honoured with a song, Clocks, by Coldplay which is fronted by Chris Martin who also happens to be Willett’s great grandson.
To read more about Willett click on this page published by the Chislehurst Society.