We have just enjoyed the longest heatwave in Britain since 2006 and coming so early in the summer the prospects are looking good for 2013 as going down as one of the best summers in recent history. The mood in the country is buoyed as the fantastic weather has been accompanied by some great sport. Andy Murray has finally broken the perennial British hoodoo and won Wimbledon, the British and Irish Lions have triumphed ‘Down Under’, Chris Froome has just won the Tour De France and England have made a winning start to the Ashes series. Coming so soon after Olympic glory last year you can’t help but think we are going through a golden age in British sport.
This is truly shaping up to be an unforgettable summer and that has got us thinking, what have been the best British summers? We are going to take a look at some of our favourites and remember some of the sporting highlights that have accompanied the sun for our top 5 Best British Summers.
Number 1 – 1976
The benchmark of a great British summer, the legend that is 1976 lives on in the collective memory as a summer without end. Long spells of dry sunny weather, whilst bliss for many of us in childhood years, spelt drought for many parts of the country. There was no rain recorded in the South West for 45 days, this coming after an exceptionally dry spring. Temperatures reached at least 80°F for three weeks with two of those weeks averaging 90°F with a high of 96.6°F recorded in Cheltenham in Gloucestershire. On the sporting front this was an Olympic year with David Wilkie memorably winning swimming gold for Britain, American Johnny Miller pipped Jack Nicklaus and a young Seve Ballesteros to win the British Open whilst Bjorn Borg won the first of his five Wimbledon titles in July. All of this coming following a series of very poor and comparatively cool summers throughout the 1960s and early 1970s.
Number 2 – 1990
The opening bars of ’Nessun Dorma’ transport many of us to the magical summer of 1990 when England came tantalisingly close to a second appearance in a World Cup final. But for the wayward boots of Chris Waddle and Stuart Pearce surely England would have triumphed against a lacklustre Argentina? As the nation was gripped by the events in Italy, the Mediterranean weather made its way to British shores. That summer temperatures soared with the height of the heat wave coming in early August when records tumbled, peaking at a sweltering 37.1°C on 3 August at Nailstone in Leicestershire. This was the summer that Nick Faldo won the British Open at St Andrews in Scotland and Britain’s athletics team grabbed second in the medals table during the European Championships at Split in the then Yugoslavia. But for many this glorious summer will be epitomised by the exploits of Bobby Robson’s heroes and a dream of what might have been!
Number 3 – 2003
Continental Europe saw the hottest summer for four hundred years as a deadly heat wave took hold of France, Germany and much of the rest of Europe. Here in Britain temperatures topped the 100°F mark with Gravesend in Kent setting a new record high 101.3°F. Two long spells of dry weather in July and August culminating in a record breaking heat wave got people wondering if this was finally a summer to rival that of 1976. For England rugby fans this was a year never to forget with World Cup glory in Australia whilst Paula Radcliffe smashed the women’s world record in the London Marathon and Serena Williams defeated sister Venus to take the 2003 women’s Wimbledon title.
Number 4 – 1995
Britain sweltered in temperatures above 82°F for 17 days whilst Robson and Jerome, Blur and Take That topped the music charts during the summer of 1995, was it really eighteen years ago? The long summer days began to warm up during late July and then extending the barbecue season through the majority of August. With internal political wrangling this is the summer that saw John Major re-elected as Conservative leader and Britain remembered as part of the 50th commemorations of VE Day. From a sporting perspective this was finally the year that national treasure Frank Bruno won the WBC heavyweight title of the world and Jonathan Edwards leapt to gold in the triple jump during the World Athletic Championships in Sweden.
Number 5 – 1989
The summer of 1989 was a period caught up in the spirit of music and youth as the second ‘summer of love’ aspired to replicate the spirit engendered in its 1960s predecessor. The great weather helped and Britain seemed to be caught up in an obsession about ‘raves’ and ‘dance music’ which seemed to disappear almost as quickly as it burst on the scene. This was a summer also when ‘Batmania’ (for better or worse) spread throughout the country with release of Tim Burton’s seminal interpretation of the superhero. The ‘unreality’ of the time was mirrored in the sporting world where it seemed that Michael Knighton was actually going to buy Manchester United for the ‘paltry’ sum of 10 million pounds. That summer Nigel Mansell was winning Grand Prix for Ferrari, Steve Davis won the world snooker championships (again) and a British winner of Wimbledon seemed like a distant dream as Boris Becker triumphed in SW19.