July 3, 2022

Churchill’s Praise and Support for Moving the Clocks Ahead

In 1934, Winston Churchill published an article in Pictorial Weekly under the title “A Silent Toast to William Willet” in which he praised the man who introduced what has become known as British Summer Time. Churchill explained why he gave the idea strong support from the beginning as seen in the extracts below.

It is one of the paradoxes of history that we should owe the boon of summer time, which gives every year to the people of this country between 160 and 170 hours more daylight leisure, to a war which plunged Europe into darkness for four years, and shook the foundations of civilization throughout the world.

I was one of the earliest supporters of Daylight Saving. I gave it my voice and my vote in Parliament at a time when powerful interests and bitter and tenacious prejudices were leagued against it, and while the mass of the population was either indifferent or scornful.

The movement to secure this great pubic reform was launched by the late Mr. William Willet. He lived at Chiselhurst, and the idea of saving daylight occurred to him in his early morning rides on St. Paul’s Cray Common and in the adjoining Petts Wood, which is now the Willet Memorial Park.

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His tireless efforts, vision, enthusiasm and driving power kept the movement alive in the face of every discouragement. But had it not been for the European War [of 1914–18] it would never have attained success. In the crush of that war people were forced to give up old prejudices and shake off the sluggish inertia of their minds. So, when in 1925, the emergency daylight saving of wartime was made permanent by Act of Parliament, there was virtually no opposition.

By then, of course, the country was able to appreciate, from experience, the benefits of summer time. These are indeed widespread; rich and poor, young and old, country and town dwellers, all alike enjoy the extra hours of daylight.

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