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Do the clocks go forward or back this October?

It's that time of year again when we officially abandon British Summer Time and return to good old GMT. That means the clocks go back - and it will start getting darker earlier.
Even though it only feels like summer started only two minutes ago, many see this as the official start of the Winter season. But there is some good news - mornings will be lighter and you get an extra hour in bed (but only on the day the clocks actually go back, not everyday throughout winter, sadly). For those people who didn't bother changing their clocks when they went forward in spring - you'll be back on the correct time, well for six months at least!

But when do the clocks actually go back? And why do we put them back? As we prepare to wrap up warm for those winter months here’s everything you need to know about Daylight Saving Time.

The UK reverts to Greenwich Mean Time at 2am on Sunday, October 30th.That means all clocks are turned back to 1am at that time. Most clever devices these days will change the time for you, so you’ve no need to worry. But remember, you’ll need to change some clocks manually - or face constant bewilderment every time you catch a glimpse of the time on your oven or microwave. Or just leave them until the clocks go forward again next spring.

If you have an iPhone, iPad and Mac they automatically change the time for you.

Check you have your 'Date and Time' settings for 'Set Automatically' turned on and it's best to update your iOS too. For smartphones, network operators should change the time accordingly so you shouldn't have to do anything, but make sure you have automatic updates set to your phone.


To remember which way to set your watch, there's a useful (albeit slightly American) saying: “spring forward, fall back”.

An Englishman thought up the idea...

William Willett laid out a serious proposition for the daylight saving scheme Photo: Getty

A man called William Willett introduced the idea of British Summer Time, also known as Daylight Saving Time, in 1907. He wanted to prevent people from wasting valuable hours of light during summer mornings.


He published a pamphlet called 'The Waste of Daylight' in a bid to get people out of bed earlier by changing the nation’s clocks.


Willett proposed that the clocks should be advanced by 80 minutes in four incremental steps during April and reversed the same way during September.


Willett then spent the rest of his life trying to convince people his scheme was a good one. Sadly, he died of the flu in 1915 at the age of 58; a year before Germany adopted his clock-changing plan on April 30, 1916 when the clocks were set forward at 11pm.

Britain followed suit a month later on May 21.

Home Office poster announcing restoration of Greenwich Time, 1916 Photo: ©Private collection


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.


The clocks go forward again on 26th March 2017

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