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William Willets Sundial

A sundial and memorial to William Willett

In among the trees of Petts Wood close to the route of the London Loop walk, not far from Petts Wood station, Bromley

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Daylight saving in Summer time
A sundial and memorial to William Willett

The sundial commemorates the start of a long campaign to save energy by changing the clocks.

Willett the builder
William Willets SundialHidden away in Petts Wood there is a granite sundial. This is a memorial to William Willett of Chislehurst a builder who campaigned for daylight saving. His campaign led to the Summer Time Act of 1925.
The idea came to William Willett while he was riding through Pett? Wood one morning when he noticed that lots of the blinds were down and people were still asleep even though the Sun had risen hours earlier.
He suggested that the clocks should be moved forward by 20 minutes on each of the four Sundays in April and then moved back in a similar way on four Sundays in September.
The long battle for change
Farmers were strongly against Summer Time and many people treated the idea as a joke. In the end William Willett? campaign led to the drafting of a government bill in 1909 which was introduced unsuccessfully in Parliament several times.
He died in 1915, but a year later Daylight Saving Time (Summer Time) was adopted in England in May 1916. The main reason was to save coal.

Submitted by: Andrew Hunt, 15 January 2007

Webexhibits is an American web site which explains the arguments for and against daylight saving (or Summer Time as we now call it) and has more to say about William Willett, including the text of his paper.
Find out more about the development of methods to measure time from the the National Physical Laboratory.

See also: Measurement

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City sponsors:
ASE London Region
Nuffiled Curriculum Centre