Curious collection box relating to the Summer Time Act 1927
The history of the Summer Time Act of 1927 reveals some interesting stories and artefacts. Among them is a wooden box for collecting money to express appreciation of the efforts of Thomas Sidey MP to pass this Act. This box, and other boxes of interest and beauty, are currently on display in the foyer of Parliament House.
Thomas Sidey’s campaign began in 1909, when he introduced a private member’s bill that proposed putting clocks forward 1 hour in summer. He argued that the change would increase leisure time for indoor workers and save on the consumption of artificial light. Opposition came from dairy farmers in particular; they did not want to get up even earlier to milk the cows. The bill was rejected, but Thomas Sidey persisted in reintroducing it every year, until eventually, in 1927, a 1-year trial was implemented.
A collection was set up in his honour by grateful members of the public. Subscriptions were invited and collection boxes were placed on shop counters. Each of the 360 employees of Kirkcaldie and Stains Ltd, Wellington, donated 1 shilling. Approximately £500 was eventually raised.
Thomas Sidey made it clear that he would not accept the money as a personal gift; instead, it was used to establish the T K Sidey Medal, which along with a sum of money would be awarded to recognise contributions to the knowledge of light as it relates to human welfare. The award would be administered by the New Zealand Institute (now the Royal Society of New Zealand).
The medal was first awarded to Ernest Rutherford in 1933, for pre-eminence in work connected with solar radiation. Today it is awarded for outstanding scientific research concerning electromagnetic radiation. The 2010 recipient was Grant Caldwell of GNS Science, for his pioneering studies of volcanic and fault line regions using magneto-telluric techniques.
This particular collection box was donated to Parliament by political journalist Neale McMillan, who purchased it at auction several years ago.
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