By then Britain and Germany had been fighting each other in the First World War (1914-18), and a system that could take pressure off the economy was worth trying.
The Summer Time Act of 1916 was quickly passed by Parliament and the first day of British Summer Time, 21 May 1916, was widely reported in the press.
Back then the hands on many of the clocks could not be turned back without breaking the mechanism. Instead, owners had to put the clock forward by 11 hours when Summer Time came to an end.
The Home Office put out special posters telling people how to reset their clocks to GMT, and national newspapers also gave advice.
Even though Germany is commonly known as the first country to implement Daylight Saving Time, Thunder Bay in Ontario, Canada had implemented it in 1908.
Willett is commemorated for his efforts by a memorial sundial in nearby Petts Wood, set permanently to Daylight Saving Time. The Daylight Inn in Petts Wood is named in his honour and there’s a road there called Willett Way.
Which countries use Daylight Saving Time?
EU countries which synchronise their Daylight Saving Time include France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Poland as well as most other European countries – including the UK, Norway and Switzerland. A few European countries don’t use it at all: Russia, Iceland, Georgia, Armenia and Belarus.
In March 2019, the European Parliament backed a proposal to abolish the clock-changing practice in 2021. While this was good news for some, it raised concerns of the implementation of a time-zone border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland following Brexit. However, the final switch has not been confirmed by the Council of the European Union and the two clock changes are still set to take place in March and October 2021.
Daylight Saving Time occurs in most US states and territories except Arizona, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Virgin islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Island. This year, participating US states begin Daylight Saving Time at 2am on Sunday, March 14.
From 1986-2006, Daylight Saving Time in America began on the first Sunday in April and ended on the last Sunday in October. The current timetable for Daylight Saving Time was introduced on August 8, 2005, however, when President Bush signed the Energy Policy Act.
Many countries in the Northern Hemisphere (north of the equator) observe Daylight Saving Time, but not all. In the Southern Hemisphere the participating countries start Daylight Saving Time between September and November and end between March and April.
Has the time difference always been one hour?
Today clocks are almost always set one hour back or ahead, but throughout history there have been several variations, like half adjustment (30 minutes) or double adjustment (two hours), and adjustments of 20 and 40 minutes have also been used. A two-hour adjustment was used in several countries during the 1940s and elsewhere at times.
A half adjustment was sometimes used in New Zealand in the first half of the 20th century.
Australia’s Lord Howe Island (UTC+10:30) follows a DST schedule in which clocks are moved 30 minutes forward to UTC+11, which is Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT) during Daylight Saving Time.
In 1940 during the Second World War, the clocks in Britain were not put back by an hour at the end of Summer Time. In subsequent years, clocks continued to be advanced by one hour each spring and put back by an hour each autumn until July 1945.
During these summers, therefore, Britain was two hours ahead of GMT and operating on British Double Summer Time (BDST).
The clocks were brought back in line with GMT at the end of summer in 1945. In 1947, due to severe fuel shortages, clocks were advanced by one hour on two occasions during the spring, and put back by one hour on two occasions during the autumn, meaning that Britain was back on BDST during that summer.
Why we should get rid of Daylight Saving Time
Those against Daylight Saving Time say its not clear if any energy savings are made while there are also potential health risks.
Critics claim that the darker mornings are dangerous for children walking to school and the energy saving argument may be invalid if people switch on fans and air-conditioning units during the lighter, warmer evenings. (But this is unlikely to bother people in the UK.)
In 2011, Tory MP Rebecca Harris floated a bill calling for year-round daylight savings but it failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session and was dropped.
A YouGov poll that same year found that 53pc of Britons supported moving clocks forward an hour permanently while 32pc opposed the change.
The proposals were met less warmly by the Scottish population; Alex Salmond called the campaign an attempt to “plunge Scotland into morning darkness” and his SNP colleague MP Angus MacNeil said any change would have “massive implications for the safety and wellbeing of everyone living north of Manchester”.
“It is no secret that Tories in the south want to leave Scotland in darkness, but fixing the clocks to British summertime would mean that dawn wouldn’t break in Scotland until nearly 9am,” he said.
He had a point. Following a 1968 to 1971 trial, when BST was employed all year round northern Scotland saw a net increase in the number of people killed or seriously injured.