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18 August, 2010

William Willett (b 1856): Advocate of Daylight Saving

William Willett is most memorable as the advocate of Daylight Saving or British Summer Time. He was the eldest son of my Great Great Grandfather (through my mother’s adoptive line), also William Willett, who started the building company.

It is said that one morning when he was out riding in Petts Wood, Chislehurst he noticed that many people’s houses still had their blinds down. Subsequently in 1907 he wrote a pamphlet called “The Waste of Daylight” and started to lobby parliament for a Daylight Saving Bill. He died before a bill was passed during the First World War to implement daylight saving (as an attempt to boost wartime production).

An extra yawn one morning in the springtime, an extra snooze one night in the autumn is all that we ask in return for dazzling gifts. We borrow an hour one night in April; we pay it back with golden interest five months later.

Winston Churchill, As quoted in: David Prerau, Seize the Daylight: The Curious And Contentious Story of Daylight

William Willett’s pamphlet The Waste of Daylightopen new window (republished on webexhibts.org)


  1. […] The most notable two are probably the father and son pair; the son (b 1856) is noted as the advocate of Daylight Saving, whilst his father is noted for founding the building firm […]

    Pingback by William Willett (b 1837) Founder of the building firm « Faulder Family Genealogy — 28 August, 2010 @ 3:10 pm

  2. […] He died in 1961 six weeks after the death of his wife. For his action in caring for Private Moore he was mentioned in dispatches.  (He was a nephew of the William Willett of Daylight Saving fame.) […]

    Pingback by Wilfred Willet (b 1890): Rescued by his wife during World War One « Faulder Family Genealogy — 7 June, 2011 @ 4:25 pm

  3. As today is the start of BST, I have been browsing the Internet to find out more about William Willet as years ago I was told he lived at Oceanstrand, Aldeburgh. I was delighted to find some information, including this family tree. Why? Because I live at Ocean Strand (there isn’t a definitive spelling). The house faces east and I wonder if, during the summer months, William Willet was woken very early by the sun streaming in like a searchlight, and this contributed to his campaign for daylight saving?

    If there is any more information about the family’s time at Oceanstrand, I would be delighted to hear about it.

    With kind regards

    Anne-Marie Cook

    Comment by Mrs. A-M Cook — 29 March, 2015 @ 1:12 pm

  4. […] change to and from British Summer Time can bring about a flurry of interest in William Willett, the original advocate in Britain of Daylight Saving. For some reason this spring Google and that […]

    Pingback by The Willetts of Colchester, Essex (and Daylight Saving) 1 of 2 « Faulder Family Genealogy — 25 May, 2015 @ 10:39 am

  5. […] Willett of daylight saving fame of course lived for a time in Petts Wood, Chislehurst (now in Greater London), and Wilfred Willett, […]

    Pingback by Are We Related: Willetts of Essex and of Kent « Faulder Family Genealogy — 16 October, 2016 @ 8:56 pm

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