How did the hottest day ever felt in the UK

Bathing pools in Hampstead Heath in north London drew city dwellers on Tuesday during Britain's historic heat wave.  (James Ford for The Washington Post)
Bathing pools in Hampstead Heath in north London drew city dwellers on Tuesday during Britain’s historic heat wave. (James Ford for The Washington Post)


LONDON – On Britain’s hottest day ever, with temperatures soaring above 104 degrees Fahrenheit, we found earthlings huddled next to the refrigeration section of Marks & Spencer Grocery at Marylebone train station.

“I’ve been standing here for about 10 minutes,” said Andy Martin, 28, video technician. “do not tell any one.”

This is not normal here. This kind of heat. This heat wave.

The Bureau of Meteorology, the country’s meteorological service, reported that at least 34 locations In Britain, the previous high temperature exceeded, with a wide area of ​​southeast and central England the temperature reached 40 degrees Celsius. That’s a hell of 104 Fahrenheit.

A fire spread in Dagenham, east London, with temperatures soaring above 40 degrees Celsius or 104 degrees Fahrenheit on July 19. (Video: Story)

Britain is not designed for this. State homes, stores, train stations, subway cars, schools, and offices – very few have air conditioning.

Was human history this hot in the British Isles? Maybe not.

There was a kind of shiver, a feeling of anxiety in the capital on this memorable day. It was windy, but that dry wind-like wind, common in the Mediterranean, in Sicily and not in Southampton, with summer’s leaves crackling and people stumbling, from one spot of shade to another, where the ambulance crews were busy, and the peeling of heatstroke victims from the sidewalks.

Stepping into some of Britain’s hottest homes on the hottest days was like stepping into the steam rooms.

When reporters from the Washington Post went to some flats on the Chalcots Estate, a public housing development in central north London, they were met with a thick chaos of heat.

“Do you feel it?” Mandy Ryan, who works as a representative for the Population Society, said.

She walked into her living room and pointed to a ceiling fan, the blades of which were spinning slowly, accusing the device of uselessness.

“It does nothing,” she said.

Like many residents of the high-rise north of Regents Park, she enjoys stunning views of the London skyline.

Imagine a heat wave in Europe as popsicles are melting

They also have an impressive collection of cuckoo clocks and ceramic dog ornaments. But inside her home on Tuesday, the most noticeable was the lousy air.

Bonnie, her Labradoodle, was panting heavily at her feet.

“We’re not going to have a leg of lamb for dinner tonight,” she joked, nodding at her unused oven.

John Szymanska, a handyman originally from Poland, was plastering and painting an apartment in Hampstead in North London.

“It’s misery,” he said, drenched in sweat. “But what can you do?” Asked. “It’s getting hotter everywhere.”

Why is this European heat wave so scary

Unlike some immigrants, who might state that they find English weak in such sweltering heat, Szymanska showed sympathy. “I feel for them. They are not used to this.”

Back in the Chalcots Estate, Paul Ravis, 38, a butcher and hip-hop artist, was struggling.

His sofa bed was covered in fur. He explained that his dog, Wise, sheds a lot. Not that Ravis sleeps much.

“When it’s hot, you suffer in these lumps,” he said.

In his studio apartment on the 15th floor, Ravis was worried his fridge was going to catch fire — so he shut it down for four hours and shoved the food into his freezer.

Some experts said the fire that engulfed nearby Grenfell Tower in 2017, killing 72 people, may have been caused by wiring in the refrigerator/freezer overheating.

“Nothing in the house is used to this weather,” Ravis said, clicking on his refrigerator, which felt hot again shortly after it was plugged in.

Europe sees record heat wave as thousands flee wildfires

London’s tube, Tube, can be remarkably hot – and no line has a worse reputation than Bakerloo.

Labor MP Karen Buck chirp.

We entered with some trepidation at Charing Cross Station. There were industrial-sized fans pushing the air into the narrow passages, but like a cave, deep in the ground, there were pockets of cold air on the platforms.

Inside the carriages it was very mature.

For Angel Rodriquez, a Spanish-born kitchen worker heading to his afternoon prep shift, the trip wasn’t as bad as he had imagined.

However, it was not philosophical. “That’s all of us,” he noted, saying climate change will only intensify and make matters worse. He nodded as he was reminded of the headlines from home, where huge wildfires have devoured parts of Spain.

Forest fires ravaged by Spain amid record heat wave

The streets of London were not empty, but they were certainly quiet, and the windows of the city were covered with blinds to block out the sun. The royal gardens and their tall lawns were mostly empty, with a few strong spirits spreading blankets in the shade of the trees.

The Lido, a public swimming pool in Parliament House, had a long line of people waiting to enter. In the water, children gleefully splashed each other while rescuers blew their whistles.

Back on the Chalcots Estate, the playgrounds were childless. The authorities have urged even healthy young people and their parents to stay at home.

Some residents told The Post they have installed air conditioning – only 3 per cent of British homes have it – or bought simple fans. However, most of them were drinking cold fluids and avoiding sunlight.

Few, albeit a minority, said they embrace the heat.

“I sweat, but I love it,” said Chantal Peters, 43, a mother of six.

She said things got worse two years ago when temperatures soared during a pandemic lockdown. “The temperature was 34 degrees Celsius, and we were locked up. Currently who – which It was hot. That was disgusting.”

Sean Walsh, who works in sales, was visiting his 71-year-old mother who lives in an upstairs apartment. His daughter took a day off from school because of the heat.

He described the weather as “severe”.

“It’s uncomfortable and hot, and this country is not designed for that heat,” he said. “The environment is changing and people are forgetting about it. All this concrete, in any big city, it’s a heat sink. You would be blind Freddy if you didn’t read the research and see that this is going to continue and we need to adapt.”

Especially in high-rise buildings that radiate heat. “It’s multiplying,” Walsh said.

Leave a Comment