As we get ready to put the clocks forward, it's interesting to read the Stamford Institution's thoughts on the novel concept of Daylight Savings (or, as Tom Sandall puts it, Sunset Delay) five years before its introduction.
Tom Sandall writes in his journal for 1911:
'On 25th April I came out at the Institution in a new character of a lecturer on the Daylight Saving Bill, which I was told came off successfully though there was not so much discussion as I should have liked. Though at present the subject is in the background I cannot but think the Bill will become an Act of Parliament before long. The Mercury reported it herewith:
THE DAYLIGHT SAVING BILL
A large and representative company listened to an interesting lecture delivered by Mr Thos Sandall upon the above subject in the reading-room of the Stamford Institution on Tuesday evening. Mr M S Young (President) was in the chair and among those present were the Mayor (Mr Jas Dalton), the Rev Dr Barnard, Messrs T S Duncomb, R March, J B Corby, F K Parker, R Tidd, E S Bowman, W H Poole, A Cade, A T Houldsworth, Herbert Knight, H H Small, and others.
The President, in the opening remarks, said they owed a great debt of gratitude to Mr Sandall for being the first to inaugurate what he hoped would be a succession of most interesting lectures which would not only be a benefit to the Institution but to all who listened to them. Mr Sandall expressed a hope that as the autumn came round they would be able to arrange a series of lectures.
The subject of his discourse that evening was one he had been deeply interested in for some time. He proceeded to give a general outline of the Bill, which it was pointed out would bring into use one of the hours of sunshine now wasted in summer mornings when most people were asleep, and give them the benefit thereof during their leisure at the end of the day. This could be secured if by legal enactment the hands of all clocks were moved forward one hour on a given date in the spring and backward in the autumn.
It was really a sunset delaying Bill, the effect being that the clock time of sunset would be deferred by one hour, consequently an hour more of their leisure after the day’s work was over would be spent in sunlight instead of darkness. An extra hour of daylight in the evening would defer lighting-up time, so that the cost of one hour’s artificial light each night would be saved. As a director of the Gas Company it might be said he was going against his own interest, but he had gone into the question and calculated that if the Bill was passed there would be a saving in artificial light in Stamford amounting to about £500.
The lecturer showed how all workers whose leisure hours were limited would be benefited; they would have more time for games, cycling, gardening, photography and other hobbies and the Territorials would be able to devote more time to their drills. He dealt with the objections to the Bill, and pointed out its special advantages to those engaged in business. Discussion ensued, the speakers as a rule being favourable to the Bill.
The Chairman proposed “that in the opinion of this meeting of members and non-members of the Stamford Institution the proposed Daylight Saving Bill is worthy of very cordial support.”
Mr Duncomb seconded, and remarked that all through his life he had tried to encourage outdoor recreation. He incidentally mentioned that the Recreation-ground bowling green would shortly be opened, and he hoped an extra hour would be obtained through the operation of the Bill for that and other such games.'
British Summer Time was eventually established by the Summer Time Act 1916, after a campaign by builder William Willett. His original proposal was to move the clocks forward by 80 minutes, in 20-minute weekly steps on Sundays in April and by the reverse procedure in September. Willett never got to see his idea implemented, having died in early 1915.
The Stamford Institution on St Peter's Hill was built to house the town's Literary and Scientific Institute and offered a reading room, subscription library, museum and lecture hall. It had a camera obscura on the roof, giving outstanding views of the town. The Institution was founded in 1842 and Tom Sandall's father, Robert, and Godfather, John Flowers Bentley, were two of its founding members. Its membership dwindled following the opening of the town's public library in 1907 and eventually the Institution became financially unviable and closed.
For more information see the Stamford Civic Society's website.