Are We Heading Towards Another British Heat Wave?

The weather was hot but 1940s temperatures never quite rose above waistlines.

British Heat Waves: Three words you don’t often see together. Rumour has it things are going to start getting hot on Wednesday. Suddenly we’ll no longer be able to ignore bottles of overpriced suncream, the great British summer will be here, and following the trend of recent summers – hotter, and hotter, and hotter. Yet despite increasing environmental fears heat waves have struck London for as long as the city can remember, just look at this 1910 clip of people swimming in Trafalgar Square.

The photos on this post are taken from footage of an English heat wave back in the blissful post-war summer of 1949 – great shots of people enjoying the sunshine, sitting out at their local lido or buying refreshments from a pop-up wayside stall. The photo below shows a young couple from this clip keeping cool in a public fountain.

In this earlier heat wave clip from 1947 ‘Britain Warms Up’ were see Londoners rushing out to enjoy the freak sunshine, people passing out in parks and pigeons drinking up all the remaining puddles that they can find! Our favourite piece of heat wave history is this late 1970s clip though. This time the cameraman seems a bit obsessed with a group of cool girls who are strolling the sunlit streets of London in tiny shorts and slogan t-shirts. Not too sure about the heavy metal beards though.

A young couple dance in a public fountain, London, 1949
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Author: British Pathé

British Pathé holds the world's finest newsreel collection. We also represent the Reuters historical collection. All 220K films are viewable on our website.

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