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History of Spring Equinox - Time to Spring Forward and Spring into Action

Nov 07, 2023
History of Spring Equinox - Time to Spring Forward and Spring into Action

Over the weekend we saw the spring equinox – the day when the sun is directly overhead at midday on the equator. Every day since, and until midsummer’s day on June 21st when at 3.57 p.m. the sun will decide it’s shown the northern hemisphere enough light for one year and start moving back in the other direction, the days go on getting longer. Therefore, to make the most of the extra daylight, on Sunday 26th at 2.00 a.m. we put the clocks forward 1 hour. This means we get one hour of daylight less in the mornings but an additional hour in the evenings.

We know it’s a busy time of year for installers too who start springing into action taking advantage of the extra daylight hours. It makes sense. In London, the shortest day in December is only 7 hours and 49 minutes long – not much chance of overtime there! In comparison the longest day is over twice as long with 16 hours and 40 minutes of daylight. Easily space there for a couple of extra hours on the clock and still time for 9 holes of golf before sunset!

Depending on which part of the UK you live and work in, you’ll get even more daylight hours. On the north coast of Scotland the sun rises on midsummer morning at 3.38 am and sets at 10.33pm. In effect it never really gets dark and it’s a common thing on the longest day for golfers to play at midnight. Of course, all over the UK, the weather is a lot better into the bargain and therefore a preferred time for homeowners when it comes to accommodating a work crew. Happy salad days all round.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME

In the 105 years since daylight saving started we haven’t always put the clocks forward and we haven’t always put them back. And we haven’t always changed them by 1 hour – the history is quite fascinating.

The first Daylight Saving Act was passed by Parliament in 1916 to help make the most of the daylight and save coal during World War 1. The first date the clocks changed wasn’t connected to the equinox, it was May 21st. Notably the first nation to adopt daylight saving was Germany, who moved their clocks forward three weeks earlier!

BST AT THE DOUBLE AND NO TURNING BACK

During the second World War things became even more complicated. In April 1943 the clocks were put forward two hours. But, come winter, they were only put back 1 hour. Again this was to help the war effort. They were not turned back to Greenwich Mean Time until the end of summer 1945.

Later governments continued to play around with daylight saving. In 1968 Harrold Wilson’s administration put the clocks forward an hour and left them there for three years with no turning back in the autumn. The idea was that doing so would reduce the number of road traffic accidents. After three years the results were inconclusive, and the fact that it was much darker in the winter mornings persuaded Parliament to abandon the project. Thus the 1972 British Summer Time Act restored the status quo to where it is now.

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