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When and why do the clocks go back this Autumn?

Ticking clocks may be about to take you back home, master lyricist Chris Martin once sang, and it turns out the Coldplay frontman has a lot more to do with timekeeping in the UK than we ever realised. 

With the clocks going back this weekend, 2am on Sunday the 30th to be exact, we took a look at the history of just why we still adhere to daylight saving time and it turns out that the family of one Chris Martin have a lot to do with it 

Martin's great-great-grandather was a certain William Willett, the man behind the decision to put the clocks back. 

Willett was what we'd now call a property developer, building a spate of homes in the South East in the late nineteenth century, and he was a Victorian go-getter in the classic mould. Out riding one summer morning in 1905, it struck him how many blinds were still closed, despite it being daylight. This being the era when Balliol men ruled from Cairo to Cape Town with nothing but industriousness and racism, it struck him that the clocks could be seasonally adjusted to give people more time to be productive in the daylight.

This wasn't an entirely new idea - the Roman hour was flexible in length depending on season, and Benjamin Franklin had suggested changing the clocks in summer in passing.

Willett promoted it like a man possessed, however, writing pamphlets disingenously suggesting that it would mean more time for recreation, or whatever the Edwardians did for fun (Give each other TB?). His over-elaborate scheme of adjusting clocks in 20-minute increments several times a year was an obstacle, and despite celebrity endorsements from the likes of Arthur Conan Doyle and a young Winston Churchill (then a pup MP better known for his thrusting war journalism), the eventual bill was defeated in Parliament in 1909.

However, the coming of World War One made having a bit more daylight more of a priority, what with U-boats doing their best to prevent essential supplies coming into Britain, and coal being at a premium. In response to this, the government finally introduced BST in May 1916.

Sadly, Willett didn't live to see this - he died of influence in 1915, aged only 58.

So, next time you see Chris Martin yelping his way across your television screen, you have a lovely piece of trivia to wow your SO. You're welcome!

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