England’s Record Heatwave In 1911
h/t Moderately Cross of East Anglia
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)