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Ultimate British summer: Is 2018 the new ‘76?

PUBLISHED: 11:29 05 July 2018 | UPDATED: 13:38 05 July 2018

Sarah Hills helps to keep her horse Robbie cool in the hot sunshine. Picture: Nick Butcher

Sarah Hills helps to keep her horse Robbie cool in the hot sunshine. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2018

At a time when it is easier to recall an England penalty shootout win than a heavy downpour, you have to ask, could this summer be the new summer of ‘76?

Red Deer keeping cool in the heat at Snettisham Park. Picture: Ian BurtRed Deer keeping cool in the heat at Snettisham Park. Picture: Ian Burt

Ever since that endless summer, more than 40 years ago, it has been used as the benchmark by which summers are judged.

Unfortunately, the comparison is often bleak, with many harking back to that unbeatable year of sun, sport and music.

But as the warm, dry weather and England’s World Cup campaign show no sign of coming to an end, a feeling of optimism and celebration is sweeping the region – and pubs are benefiting.

James Watkins, head of operations at The York Tavern in Norwich, said: “Our trade has more than doubled. Last year we were doing £10,000 weeks and this year we’re doing between £20,000 and £30,000 weeks.

The harvest has begun at Norfolk Lavender. Picture: Ian BurtThe harvest has begun at Norfolk Lavender. Picture: Ian Burt

“This is partly down to the fact we’re putting on musical festivals every other weekend in the garden, but obviously we can only do that with the weather.”

It is a similar story in Great Yarmouth, where the combination of pleasant weather and World Cup results is boosting business.

Michael Pywell, landlord at 
the Kings Arms in Great Yarmouth, said: “We’ve got a lovely beer garden, so the 
weather makes a big difference, because we can do a lot more 
food when it’s nice as it basically doubles the size of our pub.

“We’re a lot busier than usual. During the England games we bring in about two or three days takings in one hit because the pub gets totally packed out, but obviously you get a lot of overheads with it because we had 11 staff working the Colombia game to help get the drinks out.”

The beer garden at the York Tavern has been packed for England's World Cup games. Picture: James WatkinsThe beer garden at the York Tavern has been packed for England's World Cup games. Picture: James Watkins

But for many in the tourist industry – as well as children, families and teachers – fingers are crossed that this wave of heat and positivity can last until school holidays.

Steven Bland, owner of Wroxham Day Boat Hire, said: “The weekends are incredibly busy but midweek isn’t much different, despite this heatwave, because most people are still at work and school.

“If it stays like this for the whole of the school holiday period we will be absolutely exhausted by the end of it.

“We had this last year; June and the first half of July were amazing and then when the kids broke up the weather changed and we had an awful lot of rain, and August is our key month.

England fans at The Railway Tavern in Dereham during the England Tunisia World Cup match. Photo Scott HitchmanEngland fans at The Railway Tavern in Dereham during the England Tunisia World Cup match. Photo Scott Hitchman

“What frightens me is this can’t possibly last all summer, it would be unheard of – so it’s almost a little bit too much too soon.”

How does the weather compare to the summer of 1976?

This summer may not quite be reaching the heights of 1976 in terms of temperature, but it has been far drier – with few showers in the forecast.

Drought-like conditions affected the majority of the country in 1976, but there have not been significant water shortage issues so far this summer, despite it being drier.

Dan Holley, meteorologist at Weatherquest, said: “In 1976 the rainfall figures for East Anglia were 11.5mm, this year it is 6.5mm, so we’ve had half as much rain as in 1976 and even that figure was well below what you would normally expect.

“There were lots of water shortage issues in 1976 primarily because the summer of 1975 was also very dry and so was the spring.”

Mr Holley added that the region could heat up over the coming weeks.

He said: “If anything it looks like it could get a bit warmer; we could have our warmest temperatures of the year in the early part of next week.”

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