Cambridge: Monday's searing heat fails to break UK top temperature record

A group of friends leap into the Jesus Green Lido in Cambridge on Monday, July 18, when temperatures reached 36C

A group of friends leap into the Jesus Green Lido in Cambridge on Monday, July 18, when temperatures reached 36C - Credit: Jacob King/PA

The previous UK record high temperature is still standing despite yesterday's Met Office red warning for "extreme heat" in Cambridgeshire.

Temperatures soared to 36C in the county yesterday (Monday, July 18) as forecasters warned of an increased "danger to life" risk throughout Great Britain.

But the mercury failed to break the record for the highest temperature ever experienced in the UK - 38.7C - which was recorded at Cambridge University Botanic Garden on July 25, 2019.

Instead, yesterday's highest temperature was recorded at Santon Downham in Suffolk, just 28 miles from Cambridge, where the mercury hit 38.1C.

Diving into the pool at Jesus Green Lido, Cambridge

Diving into the pool at Jesus Green Lido, Cambridge - Credit: Jacob King/PA

Diving into the pool at Jesus Green Lido, Cambridge

Diving into the pool at Jesus Green Lido, Cambridge - Credit: Jacob King/PA

Pictures taken in Cambridgeshire show tourists and residents cooling off at Jesus Green Lido in Cambridge city centre.

In Peterborough, the Natural History Museum's T. Rex: The Killer Question exhibition opened its doors to visitors at the city's cathedral for the first time.

But the warm weather brought disruption to schools throughout the county, with 17 schools partially or fully closed due to hot weather.

A dinosaur on display at Peterborough Cathedral on the first day of T. Rex: The Killer Question, which runs until September 3

A dinosaur on display at Peterborough Cathedral on the first day of T. Rex: The Killer Question, which runs until September 3 - Credit: Jacob King/PA

Abi and Jacob at Peterborough Cathedral for the Natural History Museum's touring exhibition

Abi and Jacob at Peterborough Cathedral for the Natural History Museum's touring exhibition - Credit: Jacob King/PA

A "ramp" developed on the A14 at Bottisham due to excessive heat

A "ramp" developed on the A14 at Bottisham due to excessive heat - Credit: Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Roads Policing Unit

The A14 westbound carriageway suffered heat damage in the Bottisham area, and railway firms have revised today's train timetables, with Great Northern cancelling all of its trains across its entire network.

The director of Cambridge University Botanic Garden - the site of the current UK temperature record - has also raised concerns about climate change.

Professor Beverley Glover, of CUBG, said: "We've been recording the weather at our weather station here in the Garden since 1904.

"This long history of data is used by the Met Office and was verified by them in defining the scale of the 2019 heatwave, when the highest ever temperature in the UK – 38.7C – was recorded here July 25, 2019.

"This dataset is used by researchers analysing climate change.

"Recording these high UK temperatures serves as a serious reminder that we all need to be taking climate change and its impacts seriously."

Professor Glover added: "We are concerned about the potential impact of hotter, drier weather on our living collection, which we grow for teaching and to support scientists and their research worldwide.

"It’s this research which is looking to solve some of the world's greatest challenges such as climate change and the supply of food and medicines, so it’s vital our collection is well maintained and looked after."

She said some plants will thrive in the hot weather, whereas others need more care and attention to ensure they survive the heatwave.

BBC Breakfast presenter Jon Kay (left) live from Cambridge on Monday, July 18, when he was pooed on by a bird while on air

BBC Breakfast presenter Jon Kay (left) presenting a weather feature from Cambridge on Monday, July 18, when he was pooed on by a bird while on air - Credit: BBC Breakfast

Sunbathing at Jesus Green Lido, Cambridge

Sunbathing at Jesus Green Lido, Cambridge - Credit: Jacob King/PA

Jesus Green Lido in Cambridge was fully booked on Monday, July 18

Jesus Green Lido in Cambridge was fully booked on Monday, July 18 - Credit: Jacob King/PA

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough councils launched "beat the heat" campaigns on social media, urging members of the public to stay safe amid the Met Office red weather warning.

A councils statement reads: "Health experts are urging people to prepare for extreme heat on Monday and Tuesday with a red warning in place for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

"The exceptionally hot temperatures mean that overnight temperatures may not fall below 20 Celsius in some locations, especially cities and larger towns.

"Cambridge currently holds the UK’s record high temperature of 38.7C – and there is a reasonable chance this will be beaten.

"The red alert has been issued as there is a risk to health from such high temperatures, not limited to those most vulnerable to extreme heat.

"This can lead to serious illness or be a danger to life. Much of the advice on beating the heat is common sense."

Suggestions include closing curtains and windows during the day and opening them at night, drinking plenty of fluids and avoiding excess alcohol, and "thinking twice" about going into open water to cool down.

The heatwave is the latest in a series of extreme weather events in the East of England.

Flooding across the A1101 at Welney in December 2019

Flooding across the A1101 at Welney in December 2019 - Credit: Terry Harris

Golf ball-sized hailstones fell on Thaxted, Essex in July 2021 amid 27C heat

Golf ball-sized hailstones fell on Thaxted, Essex in July 2021 amid 27C heat - Credit: Neil Brooks

In 2019, severe flooding caused disruption in the Welney area of Cambridgeshire, when rising water levels cut off parts of the A1101 Wash Road.

On July 20, 2021, residents in Thaxted, Essex - 19 miles away from Cambridge - experienced golf ball-sized hailstones amid 27C heat. The hailstones damaged gardens and conservatories in the area.

Storm Eunice toppled trees during a red weather warning for wind in February. In Melbourn, Cambridgeshire, a dog walker sustained minor injuries when a large tree landed on him during the storm.

Elsewhere in the country, yesterday's 38.1C reading at Santon Downham is the highest temperature ever recorded in Suffolk.

A group enjoy in the shade in next-door Suffolk - the hottest county in the country according to Met Office statistics

A group enjoy in the shade in next-door Suffolk - the hottest county in the country on July 18, 2022 according to Met Office statistics - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Alpacas in Wymondham, in neighbouring Norfolk, receive a cooling hose down as temperatures reached 36C in the region

Alpacas in Wymondham, in neighbouring Norfolk, receive a cooling hose down as temperatures reached 36C in the region - Credit: Danielle Booden

According to the Met Office, Wales experienced its hottest day on record yesterday when the temperature hit 37.1C in Hawarden, Flintshire.

The early Met Office weather forecast today suggests Peterborough will experience highs of 40C in the mid-afternoon, well above the UK heat record.