10 August 2016
The inventor of Daylight Saving Time, William Willett, was born in Farnham, Surrey on 10 August 1856
On this day in history, 1856: the inventor of Daylight Saving Time, William Willett, was born in Farnham, Surrey. He was a British house builder who campaigned tirelessly for a scheme of adjusting clocks with the season, after noticing on an early summer morning ride in Petts Wood, near Chislehurst, Kent, that many people’s blinds were still down, but there was already plenty of daylight.
In 1907 he published a pamphlet, ‘The Waste of Daylight’, proposing that clocks be put forward four hours in April and put back in September. However, his Daylight Saving Time idea didn’t make it into law until World War I and the Summer Time Act of 1916, in the Government’s urgent bid to make wartime coal savings and increase production. British Summer Time began on 21 May 1916 and ended on 1 October. Germany had already recently adopted a daylight saving scheme and other countries followed suit.
Sadly Willett died from influenza in March 1915, aged 58, so never saw British Summer Time become a reality.
A memorial sundial now stands in Petts Wood to Willett, who also happens to be the 2x great-grandfather of Chris Martin, frontman of the band Coldplay. Incidentally, one of their most famous songs is called ‘Clocks’.
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