RETRO PICTURES AND VIDEO: Phew! Can you remember sweltering summer of 1976 in Doncaster?

Girls in bikinis were the order of the day in local newspapers.

Girls in bikinis were the order of the day in local newspapers.

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As Doncaster basks in the summer sunshine, we're taking a look back to the fondly remembered summer of 1976.

It was forty years ago this month that the nation basked in temperatures more in keeping with the Sahara Desert than South Yorkshire.

Day after day throughout much of June and early July of '76, the temperature reached into the 80s - and even the 90s as records tumbled across the country - leading to water shortages, rationing of supplies and ice cream running out.

"We're hotter than Nice. Majorca and Athens!," screamed the headlines of the Doncaster Evening Post at the time.

It reported how ice cream makers were working "flat-out" with one supplier remarking: "I had two storage fridges full of the stuff. I just don't know where it has all gone."

Across the town and beyond, swimming pools were packed as people tried to cool off in the scorching heat and cars were breaking down as engines overheated beneath the sun's rays.

Pupils at Bentley New Village Primary School soak up the sun in the summer of 1976.

Pupils at Bentley New Village Primary School soak up the sun in the summer of 1976.

South Yorkshire Police even issued a warning for drivers to "keep their eyes on the road and not the mini-skirted girls on the pavement."

And, showing markedly different times back in the 70s, one local newspaper reporter wrote: "The hottest day of the year brought out the girls - oh the girls!! in their flimsy summer tops. Heaven!"

Under headlines such as "Phew! It's Heading Towards A Record" and "what a sizzler!," newspapers chose to illustrate the balmy temperatures - with lots of gratuitous pictures of local lasses in their skimpy bikinis.

A British Pathe film shot during that summer is captioned with the words: "The cameraman seems to focus on women. Lots of short shorts and tight tops. Everyone does hot quite hot."

A packed Doncaster Racecourse during the summer of '76.

A packed Doncaster Racecourse during the summer of '76.

"People bathed on lawns, benches, verges, pub forecourts, window sills and even car bonnets as life slowed to a snail's pace," the press reported. "Young men went topless and businessmen loosened their ties."

The heat wave led to the hottest summer average temperature in the UK since records began.

One of the driest, sunniest and warmest summers in the 20th century, only a few places registered more than half their average summer rainfall.

Heathrow had 16 consecutive days over 30 °C (86 °F) from June 23 to July 8 and for 15 consecutive days from June 23 to July 7, temperatures reached 32.2 °C (90 °F) somewhere in England.

South Yorkshire's Derwent reservoir was dry as a bone.

South Yorkshire's Derwent reservoir was dry as a bone.

Furthermore, five days saw temperatures exceed 35 °C (95 °F).

And on 28 June, temperatures reached a staggering 35.6 °C (96.1 °F) in Southampton, the highest June temperature recorded in the UK.

The hottest day of all was 3 July, with temperatures reaching 35.9 °C (96.6 °F) in Cheltenham, one of the hottest July days on record in the UK.

The drought was at its most severe in August 1976. Parts of the south west went 45 days without any rain in July and August. As the hot and dry weather continued, devastating heath and forest fires broke out in parts of Southern England.

The effect on domestic water supplies led to the passing of a Drought Act by parliament and Minister for Drought, Denis Howell, was appointed. There was widespread water rationing and public standpipes in some affected areas. Reservoirs were at an extremely low level, as were some rivers. The rivers Don, Sheaf, Shire Brook and Meers Brook (all in Sheffield) all ran completely dry.

In the last week of August, days after Denis Howell was appointed 'Minister for Drought', severe thunderstorms brought rain to some places for the first time in weeks. September and October 1976 were both very wet months, bringing to an end the great drought.

Headlines such as this were repeated day after day.

Headlines such as this were repeated day after day.

Meanwhile, away from the sunshine, national news headlines saw David Steel elected leader of the Liberal Party, Ford launched its Fiesta car for the first time, the Montreal Olympics were held and Southend Pier was destroyed by fire.

In the charts, Abba's Dancing Queen and Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen ruled the airwaves while on the box, we were tuning into the delights of Rentaghost, Multi Coloured Swap Shop, Nationwide and Open All Hours, which made its series debut in 1976.

Those brave enough to venture to the cinema in the stifling heat could enjoy hits such as Rocky, King Kong and All President's Men.

Phew! A word that was used way too much during the summer of '76.

Phew! A word that was used way too much during the summer of '76.

Supermarkets were offering "Quosh" orange squash to keep cool - as well as serving up "American Lard at 15 1/2 p and loaves of bread at 15p.

Supermarkets were offering "Quosh" orange squash to keep cool - as well as serving up "American Lard at 15 1/2 p and loaves of bread at 15p.

"Pert" Pam Cunningham was another local "lovely" pictured in her bikini as temperatures soared.

"Pert" Pam Cunningham was another local "lovely" pictured in her bikini as temperatures soared.