Why do the clocks go back in UK? Reason why British Summer Time ends - and when clocks will change in October

When clocks ‘fall back’ in the UK in late October, it marks the end of British Summer Time and the return to Greenwich Mean Time – but why do the clocks go back?

Dropping temperatures and colder mornings have reappeared as not-so-welcome signs that winter is approaching.

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As the weather turns chillier and the nights start to become darker in Scotland, households across the country will see their clocks change to mark the changing of the season from summer to winter.

When do the clocks go back 2021? Date and time clocks change in October - and reason British Summer Time ends (Image credit: Getty Images/Canva Pro)

At the moment, we’re currently living by British Summer Time (BST), after the clocks went forward earlier this year.

But soon the clocks will need to go back again as winter rolls in.

Despite it happening every year, many of us get confused about when the clocks actually change.

To prevent you from being caught out, here’s what you need to know about the clocks going back this year.

When did the clocks go forward?

The clocks went forward at 1am on Sunday 28 March 2021.

This marked the start of BST, with more daylight in the evenings and darker mornings.

When do the clocks go back in 2021?

British Summer Time ends at 2am on Sunday 31 October 2021 when the clocks go back.

This means people will be able to enjoy an extra hour in bed as the clocks revert back to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) - and it also means more time to prepare for Halloween.

In the UK, the clocks always go forward an hour at 1am on the last Sunday in March, and then back an hour at 2am on the last Sunday in October.

When the clocks go back in autumn and the UK operates on GMT, there is more daylight in the morning, with darker evenings.

Then, in early spring, the clocks will be moved forward again to BST on 27 March 2022.

The clocks always change at the weekend in the middle of the night to ensure there’s limited disruption for both schools and businesses.

Why do the clocks go back in the UK?

BST, also known as Daylight Saving Time, was initially designed to help people maximise their sunlight hours throughout the year.

It was created following a campaign by British builder William Willett with the Summer Time Act of 1916.

Mr Willett wrote about his idea in his 1907 pamphlet called The Waste of Daylight, in which he proposed that days were made longer in the summer so he could play golf for longer.

After much lobbying, Mr Willett's idea was introduced to the UK a year after his death. Shortly after, Germany and Austria also introduced Daylight Saving Time.

Now, most countries in mainland Europe also change their clocks in summer and winter.

It was thought that the new way of observing time would make the most of natural sunlight and conserve energy, which was essential during World War I when coal was limited.

The logic was that it was pointless to waste electricity when there was actual daylight still to be used.

Why is British Summer Time controversial?

But while some think it’s a good idea to make the most out of our daylight, many believe that the system isn’t that beneficial and that it actually causes major problems, especially in Europe where there are three time zones.

The problem lies with the difference in sunlight around the continent, as northern areas receive much less sunlight than southern countries, meaning the clock changes have a more significant effect on some places than on others.

There have also been campaigns for British time to be brought in line with other European countries to reduce road accidents, which increase with the arrival of darker evenings.

This would make the UK two hours ahead of GMT in the summer, and one hour ahead in the winter.

Others simply say that we spend so much time inside offices and homes that daylight saving is no longer required.

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