Britain has a rich history of innovation and inventiveness, and in fact we even created time itself…

Well, sort of.

Britain is believed to have been the first country in the world to introduce a standardised time, meaning that wherever you are in the country,  the time of day will always be the same. Before the adoption of standard time, cities kept their own local times, which, in today’s world of rapid communication, would seem completely unfathomable. Bristol, for example, was 10 minutes behind Greenwich Mean Time (London time).

The arrival of the railways in the 19th century transformed the way we travelled, weaving together towns and cities across the country. Spanning great distances, it quickly became impractical for train companies to operate with disparities between local time and London time. Such was the difficulty translating between ‘time zones’ that it was even jeopardising the safety of the trains, with each potentially operating to different timings.

By 1840, the Great Western Railway made the decision to publish their timetables all in Greenwich Mean Time , hoping it would cotton on.

As it turns out, it did cotton on – and not just amongst railway companies – with 98% of town and cities relying on GMT by 1855. In 1880, a standardised time was granted legal status, despite coming into use 40 years previously, and the national ‘time zone’ we use today was born – all thanks to the railways.