Skip to content

England’s Record Heatwave In 1911

July 26, 2016

h/t Moderately Cross of East Anglia 



1st August 1911:  Men sleeping on the sands at Westcliff during a heatwave.  (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

1st August 1911: Men sleeping on the sands at Westcliff during a heatwave


When New England was experiencing arguably its worst heatwave on record in July 1911, Old England was having an equally remarkable one of its own.  Official figures show it was the second hottest summer on record, beaten only by the even more exceptional summer of 1976.




The hot weather effectively began at the beginning of July, when high pressure began to build.


The Met Office report for the month records temperatures reaching 97F, only a degree less than the “record” July temperature, set last year next to the tarmac runway at Heathrow.




It was set to get hotter still, with temperatures rising the following month to 100F at Greenwich. Since 2003, no temperature above 98F have been recorded in England.




The heat lasted well into September too with temperatures well into the 90s.





The Flashbak history site has records some of the memories of that summer:


On 17 July, 1911, most of the country was perspiring in 80F (27C) temperatures. It became too hot to work after midday, so the managers of the cotton mills and stone quarries in Clitheroe, Lancashire, decided to shut down in the middle of the afternoon. To compensate for lost hours, the quarrymen’s day would now begin at first light, 4.30am.

The managers were delighted that the Daylight Savings Bill had not yet been made law, so they were able to take advantage of the early dawn.

The Times began to run a regular column under the heading “Deaths From Heat”. And the weathermen forecast that temperatures would continue to rise.

By 20 July there had been 20 consecutive days without rain, and Richard Stratton, an elderly farmer in Monmouth, reported gathering his earliest harvest since 1865…

In London the sky seemed unusually clear, and in King’s Lynn in Norfolk a temperature of 92F (33C) broke all previous records for that part of the country…

In London on the first day of the month the temperature maintained a steady 81F, and just as the dock owners were hoping that the strike action of earlier in the summer was a thing of the past, between four and five thousand men employed in the Victoria and Albert Docks stopped work, and the place was at a standstill…

…the temperature recorder at South Kensington registered 92F, and people found themselves crossing over to the shady side of the street. There was still a severe water shortage in pockets of the country, wool workers in Bradford Mills being laid off because there was no water for the night-time cleaning of the wool.

On 11 September the average temperature suddenly dropped by 20 degrees and The Times forecast good news: “The condition over the kingdom as a whole is no longer of the fine settled type of last week and the prospects of rain before long appear to be more hopeful for all districts.”

The Lady magazine was already devoting several pages to new autumn fashions, and sumptuous furs had arrived on the rails of Peter Robinson’s. The long, hot summer was over.


If there were to be record heatwaves on both sides of the Atlantic now, there would be calls for world communism.



I have to finish with this photo, even though it was taken in 1913. I think you’ll understand why!



1st July 1913:  Men cover their heads with newspapers to protect them from the summer sun.  (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

1st July 1913: Men cover their heads with newspapers to protect them from the summer sun. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

  1. Joe Public permalink
    July 26, 2016 1:27 pm

    From your last image, I note mankind hadn’t at that time evolved into wearing fewer & looser clothes during heatwaves.

    Heck, even the men sleeping on the sands at Westcliff during a heatwave were still wearing jacket / waistcoat / ties.

  2. July 26, 2016 3:20 pm

    Great pics, and it’s not so long ago that men wore three-piece suits even if it was hot, it was bad manners to remove ones jacket.

    The data seem to show that hot weather is primarily a random occurrence.
    The general indication is of a natural warming trend of about 0.6 deg K per century with a lot of “noise”, and that has been happening since the 1800s. This seems to be the trend on most long-term world temperature graphs that I’ve seen.

    The entire global warming nonsense is based on this rate showing an increase, but recent evidence seems to show an asymptotic behaviour that is much more worrying than the rise that the computers falsely predict.

  3. Mike Jackson permalink
    July 26, 2016 7:47 pm

    So the much-touted “hottest day ever” on August 3rd, 1990 — I remember it because I was at the wedding of my best man’s son in Leicestershire and while everyone else was in sponge bags I was keeping cool in a kilt — was a load of boloney. There’s a surprise.

    The papers were full of it the next morning but the figure was (if I recall) 91F which is a bit shy still of the 100° at Greenwich in 1911,

    All together, now: it’s only weather!

  4. tom0mason permalink
    July 27, 2016 12:14 am

    That 1911 was real hot but for a 12 month period May 1975 to April 1976 was the DRIEST 12 month period since the series began (?EWR) in 1727.

    Funny stuff this weather.

  5. mikewaite permalink
    July 27, 2016 3:20 pm

    Far, far more important than the temperature was the fact that the high pressure for the last few weeks has also meant, on this occasion, low wind speeds. I have been looking , at random intervals at the metered wind power on Gridwatch and only today is the power level beginning to increase . Previously over the last 4 weeks when I looked it was only about 1-2% of UK demand .
    The relevance is that the Cameron administration was said to have committed the UK to obtain 100% of power from renewables (presumably mainly wind) by 2050, and about 1/2 by 14 years time .
    Has this decision been laid aside now ?
    Is there anyone in the cabinet office capable of running through a few sums , ones that even a UK premier could understand , to show May that this objective is implausible without devoting much of the remaining countryside and a large part of the national budget to its achievement.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: