When you need to change your clocks for British Summer Time

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The last week of March officially marks the beginning of British Summer Time, meaning clocks across the country will need to go forward an hour. Here’s everything you need to know about daylight saving time – including its link to Coldplay’s frontman, Chris Martin.

Why do we have daylight saving time?

British Summer Time (BST) – came into existence in 1916 following a petition by British builder William Willet.

As well as being a key player in the origins of BST, Mr Willet is also the great-great-grandfather of British superstar Chris Martin.

He published a pamphlet in 1907 called “The Waste of Daylight” – a complicated proposal which involved advancing the clocks by 80 minutes, in four separate moves of 20 minutes each.

The change in time was proposed to help save energy by reducing the amount of coal households consume – although some suggested Mr Willet’s motives in fact lay with his frustration at having to cut his golf games short when the sun went down.

However, he never saw the benefit of his proposal, as it wasn’t passed during the First World War, a year after he died in 1915.

The Summer Time Act was passed in 1916 by Parliament, establishing the ritual of putting the clocks an hour forward during summer.

The idea of daylight saving time was first suggested however by American politician and inventor Benjamin Franklin, who said that if people got up earlier, they might save on candles.

When do the clocks go forward?

UK residents and everyone in this time zone will need to put their clocks forward by an hour this Sunday, March 26, 2023, at 1am. BST lasts until October 29, 2023.

Most phones and smart gadgets will update automatically, although it is worth checking if you have to update them manually. Other devices, such as watches and clocks in cars and kitchens, for instance, won’t change automatically.

Clocks will move back an hour in October.

Around 70 countries use some form of daylight saving time, but it varies from region to region. The majority of Europe and North America use the system, as well as parts of South America and Australasia.

Countries closer to the equator – particularly in Africa and Asia – are less likely to change their time.

For the US, their clocks change at a slightly different time, having gone forward this year on March 12, and going back an hour on November 5.

Will we always have BST?

There are many arguments in favour of using BST. These include reducing energy consumption for environmental reasons, having longer evenings for leisure and tourism, and encouraging people to spend more time outdoors.

It has also been suggested that it reduces road accidents.

However, critics of the system argue that there are safety concerns about travelling in darker conditions in the morning, while some farmers say there are issues with changing routines for their livestock.

Others argue BST is simply redundant given that, over a century on from when it was introduced, we now spend most of our time in well-lit homes, shops and offices, where the amount of daylight has minimal impact on our lives.

The US may be scrapping the system entirely, as in March 2022, just days after changing the clocks, a bill known as the Sunshine Protection Act was passed in the US Senate. This suggested that from November 2023 there should be no more seasonal clock changes, although the act will still need to be taken up by the House of Representatives and signed into law by the US president. 

Meanwhile the European Parliament recently backed a proposal to end the practice of changing the clocks in European Union states, but the legislation has stalled.

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