Don’t forget to put your clocks forward...

Art Deco clock
Art Deco clock

A timely reminder from Scarborough Museums Trust: don’t forget to put your clocks forward this weekend.

This beautiful Art Deco clock, with its typically geometric design, dates from a few years after 1916, which was when this country established British Summer Time (BST).

He also posited that it would save the country around £2.5m in lighting costs – the equivalent of over £268m today

Builder William Willett, who in the early part of the last century lived at Chislehurst in Kent, was riding his horse in nearby Petts Wood early one summer morning, and noticed that many curtains were still drawn despite the broad daylight, giving him the idea of daylight saving time.

In 1907, Willett published a pamphlet entitled The Waste of Daylight, in which he mooted the idea that our clocks should be advanced by a total of 80 minutes each April, with the process reversed each September:

“I therefore venture to propose that at 2am on each of four Sunday mornings in April, standard time shall advance 20 minutes; and on each of four Sundays in September, shall recede 20 minutes, or in other words that for eight Sundays of 24 hours each, we shall substitute four, each 20 minutes less than 24 hours, and four each 20 minutes more than 24 hours...

“This is the whole cost of the scheme. We lose nothing, and gain substantially. Having made up our minds to be satisfied, on four occasions, with a Sunday of 23 hours and 40 minutes, the advantages aimed at follow automatically without any trouble whatever; everything will go on just as it does now, except that as the later hours of the day come round, they will bring more light with them.”

Willett argued the health benefits of his scheme: “...80 minutes a day amount in a week to 9 hours and 20 minutes, which is about the average time that can advantageously be spent in exercise in the open air, on any holiday.”

He also posited that it would save the country around £2.5m in lighting costs - the equivalent of over £268m today.

In 1916, the Summer Time Act came into force. Willett, sadly, never saw the fruits of his labours – he died of influenza in 1915.

And one quirky, if entirely irrelevant, fact which I just can’t resist giving you - Willett was the great-great grandfather of Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin.

For the full text of Willett’s fascinating pamphlet, take a look here:

The Art Deco clock is part of the Scarborough Collections, the name given to all the museum objects and artwork acquired by the borough over the years, and now in the care of Scarborough Museums Trust. For further information, please contact Collections Manager Jennifer Dunne on or (01723) 384510.