THIS week in Scotland sees some of the hottest days on record, but it’s not the first time the country has experienced a sweltering taste of the Mediterranean.
The UK summer of 1976 saw three months of unwavering heat, with 15 consecutive days when the temperature reached 32C.
1976 was also crowned the best year ever in 2013, in an economic survey that analysed 17 countries from 1950 to the present day.
In summer 1976, The Wurzel’s “Combine Harvester” was number one, the nation’s favourite car was the Ford Cortina and the average house price was £12,704. The average wage was £72 a week. A pint of beer cost 32p. A loaf of bread was 19p.
It was also extremely hot.
Glasgow was having its driest summer and Aberdeen its hottest since the 1860s. At first it was glorious, with Scots flocking to the coast or their local parks and ice cream factories and breweries cranking up production to cope with unprecedented demand.
Families cooling down at Stonehaven Swimming Pool, 1976 (Evening Express)
There was no chance of the usual rain delays at that year’s Wimbledon.
Instead, 400 sweat-soaked spectators had to be treated for sunstroke and similar ailments in a single day.
Crowds enjoying the sun on Reform Street, Dundee, 1976 (Getty Images)
And, breaking with 100 years of tradition, the umpires were allowed to take their jackets off as temperatures soared higher and higher.
Spectators shield their heads with newspapers and books at Wimbledon, 1976. (Getty Images).
The heatwave euphoria didn’t last for long, however.
Ann Russell of Glasgow recalls: “My car seat was too hot to sit on, and it was too hot to be indoors or outdoors.
“I remember the price of salad went up and you could literally fry an egg on the street. We were all praying for a cold wind.”
The Guardian journalist Martin Wainwright, writing in 2006, recalls: “The absence of green on the ground was made up for in the air by apocalyptic swarms of aphids.”
The heatwave also brought perils to those seeking to cool down in water.
Snowploughs had to take to the A9 between Perth and Inverness – to spray sand on to the melting tar. Tinder-dry woodland was just one stray match away from disaster and forests across the country were ravaged by fire.
More than 300 residents of a New Forest old folk’s home were evacuated as a blaze raced towards it at 40mph.
Farmers’ fields were so parched that crops failed, with the spectre of food shortages raised in parliament.
Farmers weren’t the only ones who felt they were in the wrong line of work – an Ayrshire factory making waterproof sportswear closed due to total lack of demand.
And the biggest impact was very much water. Or the lack of it in what became known as The Great Drought.
Rivers and reservoirs dried up and drought restrictions were imposed across the country, especially in England.
In the worst-hit areas standpipes were set up and “You are entering a drought area” signs were put up.
The government even appointed a Drought Minister.
Then, ironically, just as workers who had peered enviously out at the great weather got set to enjoy it on the August Bank Holiday weekend, the heavens opened and the summer of ’76 was over.