When do the clocks go back in October 2021 and why do they change?

British clocks will revert to Greenwich Mean Time when they go back an hour in October

Laura Hampson
Saturday 30 October 2021 20:53
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It’s official: autumn is well and truly upon us, which means it’s nearly time for the clocks to go back.

While the arrival of winter brings darker mornings and evenings, turning the clocks back allows us to have more sunlight in the morning. Plus, on the day the clocks change we get an extra hour in bed too, so we’re not complaining.

Here’s everything you need to know about when and why the clocks go back:

When do the clocks going back in 2021?

This year, the clocks will go back an hour on Sunday 31 October.

Every year, the clocks go back an hour at 2am on the last Sunday of October.

When this occurs, the UK will switch from British Summer Time (BST) to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

If you have a smartphone or device, the clock on it should automatically update in the early morning.

The clocks went forward an hour on Sunday 28 March this year, which marked the beginning of British Summer Time.

Why do the clocks go back?

Following summer solstice, which this year occurred on Monday 21 June, the days gradually become shorter.

Therefore, by turning the clocks back an hour during autumn, this provides people with more sunlight in the morning. Turning the clocks forward in the spring brings lighter evenings.

Why was Daylight Saving Time introduced?

British Summer Time was first introduced as part of the Summer Time Act of 1916.

William Willett, an Edwardian builder and the great-great-grandfather of Coldplay’s Chris Martin, had devised a campaign in which he proposed that the clocks go forward in spring and back in winter so that people could spend more time outdoors during the day and save energy, hence the term Daylight Saving Time.

Willett wrote about his proposal in a pamphlet called The Waste of Daylight, which was published in 1907.

The government later adopted his ideas in 1916 during World War I - a year after Willett died - as politicians believed it would help reduce the demand for coal.

While the Summer Time Act may have been established following Willett’s proposal, he wasn’t the first to put forward the idea of preserving daylight by changing the clocks.

In 1784, Benjamin Franklin wrote about a similar idea in a satirical letter sent to the editor of the Journal of Paris. In the letter, Franklin suggested if people got up earlier when it was lighter, it would make economic sense as it would save on candles.

The ancient Romans also followed a similar practice in order to use their time efficiently during the day.

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