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Daylight Saving Time begins in the UK

DST was a WWI effort. Germany was the first, in April 1916. The UK followed on 21 May 1916.

In the United Kingdom, the Summer Time Act passed on 17 May 1916. For the first time in the UK, clocks sprang forward one hour the following Sunday, May 21st.

But Daylight Saving Time (DST) did not start in the UK.

After many years of consideration around the World, Imperial Germany became the first country to institute Daylight Saving Time. On April 6, 1916, the Federal Council (Bundesrat) passed an order directing a change in the clocks to “add” an hour of daylight to the day during the months of May through September.

DST is an artifact of World War I (28 July 1914 – 11 November 1918).

Germany, and its WWI ally Austria-Hungary, introduced Daylight Saving Time on 30 April 1916 to save fuel like coal used to create electricity.

A US embassy Despatch 2870 (08 April 1916) noted that Germany anticipated monetary savings due to “limiting the use of artificial light.”

Britain is situated further north than Germany. It operated on Greenwich Mean Time in the early 1900s, and “it was light by 3am and dark around 9pm in the summer.”

Before WWI, a builder from Kent, William Willett, argued that longer daylight hours in the summer would “improv[e] health and also sav[e] the country money in lighting costs.”

Although the war may have instigated “agitation” or advocacy for changing the clocks during summer months, Benjamin Franklin mentioned the idea in 1784.

In the United States, DST or “War Time” first went into effect in the spring of 1918. After the war ended, Congress repealed the law.

1918 poster for daylight saving time
A poster from 1918 encourages citizens to write a postcard and lobby Congress in support of daylight saving time. Image: Library of Congress.

Then in 1942, Congress created national daylight saving time to both conserve fuel and “promote national security and defense” during World War II. Again, Congress repealed the law after the war ended, allowing “individual states [to] establish their own standard time.”

Note: farming had nothing to do with it. And it’s always been controversial.

The idea was that Americans wouldn’t have to turn on their lights so early in the day, and thus would save energy. But businesses reaped the benefits in peacetime too. Stores liked the extra hour of shopping in extended daylight, while sports and recreation industries liked that it allowed for later start times of games, boosting attendance. In 1966, the Uniform Time Act made it U.S. policy to observe six months of Daylight Saving Time and six months of Standard Time; it was an effort to get states on the same page, whereas before, cities and counties chose whether or not to opt out of observing Daylight Saving Time.

On 15 December 1973, President Nixon signed legislation creating year-round DST as a response to the global energy “crisis”. The hope was that the time change would reduce the our demand for energy by 2%. Fall of 1974, Congress again reversed itself.

Now I understand why it seems like I’ve always lived with DST!

Most countries do not have a form of DST.

#scitech, #science, #society (121/365)
📷 Department of Defense
Daily posts, 2022-2023

By Kathy E. Gill

Digital evangelist, speaker, writer, educator. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill

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