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By David Rooney on

The Speed King And The Daylight-saver

David Rooney, Transport Curator, explores an unexpected connection between Malcolm Campbell and William Willett.

In a previous post I mentioned Malcolm Campbell and his remarkable speed records set on land and water in his Blue Bird vehicles. Campbell was buried in St Nicholas’s churchyard in Chislehurst, near Bromley. I was planning to go on a walk in Petts Wood (near Chislehurst) last weekend with friends anyway, so I thought I’d take a photo of his grave.

Close to Malcolm’s plot is the grave of somebody perhaps less well known, but whose actions have had a profound effect on the way quarter of the world live their lives each summer: William Willett, the man who invented ‘Daylight Saving Time’ (or ‘Summer Time’ – putting the clocks forward in summer). His grave was restored last year (following an exhibition at the Royal Observatory Greenwich) and now looks terrific.

There is a link between the two men, beyond their physical proximity, though I admit it’s a bit laboured: road safety is often given as a reason to continue with Daylight Saving Time (although the matter’s highly complex), and the Campbells certainly stretched road safety to the limit in their fast-living lives. So, next post will be all about road safety technology at the Science Museum…