Pioneer of British Summer Time to be recognised
"To my surprise, and my delight, I saw sunrise, I saw sunlight..."
Three days before our clocks go forward by an hour, William Willett, who pioneered Daylight Saving Time, will be honoured by the unveiling of a plaque in West London . Organised by Mill Hill Park Residents' Association with Ealing Civic Society and Hamptons ' International, the plaque commemorates the fact that he lived at 16 Avenue Crescent from 1882-1894.
The unveiling will be carried out by George Willett, William's grandson and a retired stockbroker. Chris Martin of Coldplay, George's great nephew, is unable to attend because he is playing a concert in Toronto. (Mill Park Residents' Association also point out that Coldplay's 2002 album, A Rush of Blood To The Head, significantly contains two songs appropriate to the occasion ' 'Clocks' and 'Daylight'! It can't just be coincidence...)
William Willett is something of a cult hero. He is the reason why we put our clocks backwards and forwards to catch the most daylight ' as the Americans put it, 'spring forward, fall back'. He and his father (also William) built high quality houses on the Cadogan and Grosvenor estates in Chelsea and Westminster. The Mill Hill Park estate was bought in 1877 and laid out - as an early garden suburb - on the site of a Regency mansion surrounded by its parkland. Nearby was the new Mill Hill Park underground station, conveniently within walking distance and for easy commuting to Piccadilly. The station was later re-named Acton Town.
The Willetts' houses are renowned not only for the high standards of workmanship but also for their well-placed windows which allow in as much light as possible. William Willett the Younger became convinced that clocks should be moved backwards in autumn and forwards in spring in order that people could take advantage of the hours of daylight. He wrote a famous leaflet, The Waste of Daylight, and worked tirelessly to have his idea adopted. Eventually it became law a year after his premature death at the age of 59 in 1915. Last autumn a well-researched book on the subject, "Seize the Daylight" by academic David Prerau, was published in Britain by Granta Books.
March 1, 2006