BRITAIN enjoyed or endured – depending on your point of view or possibly your location - the hottest July day on record.
Temperatures soared to 36.7C (98F) yesterday as roads melted, trains were cancelled and urgent health warnings were issued amid fears the hot weather could result in deaths.
But it was also a great day to be by the beach, particularly in Yorkshire where sea breezes kept temperatures down to a relatively balmy high of 26C (79F) in Scarborough.
Elsewhere in Yorkshire, temperatures reached 31C. Nationally, the Met Office said temperatures hit the record high in Heathrow - breaking the previous record of 36.5C set on July 19 2006 in Wisley, Surrey.
Sheffield, meanwhile, had its hottest day on record with temperatures reaching 32.6 degrees.
There will be some respite from the heat today though, with temperatures in Yorkshire forecast to be no higher than a cooler 24C.
Wimbledon reported the hottest day in the Championship’s history. A ball boy collapsed in the heat and was taken to hospital as a precaution as temperatures soared to 35.7C.
Trains were blighted by delays and cancellations as Network Rail imposed speed restrictions on some lines amid fears the metal tracks could buckle under the searing heat.
Motoring group AA said it had been called out to reports of road surfaces melting in the heat, bringing disruption to drivers.
Bottled water was handed out to lorry drivers stuck in the heat in huge tailbacks on the M20 in Kent, caused by striking ferry workers who have closed the Port of Calais.
Water was also handed out to passengers at Greater Anglia stations, including Ipswich and Norwich, as health experts urged people to keep hydrated.
The AA said it had received reports from patrols that the road surface softened in places.
A spokesman said: “There was a man who put the stand down on his motorbike and it sank into the tarmac. The roads are soft in places.
“We have been very, very busy today.”
A spokeswoman for Network Rail said metal rail tracks could get 20C (68F) hotter than the air temperature, meaning they could reach 56.7C (134F) prompting fears the steel could expand and buckle.
She said they were monitoring track temperatures and speed restrictions were in place across a number of lines.
Greater Anglia Trains implemented speed restrictions on services between London Liverpool Street and Shenfield and Southend Victoria, and cancelled a number of peak-time trains Tuesday night.
Southeastern also restricted the speed of trains and warned passengers to avoid travelling between 1pm and 7pm.
There was further misery for motorists battling the heat as a stretch of the M1 in Derbyshire was closed after an HGV lorry carrying explosives caught fire at around 1pm.
Public Health England warned people to try to keep out of the sun between 11am and 3pm, and called on the public to look out for the elderly, young children and those with serious illnesses.
Independent Age, a charity representing older people, said Britons should check on their elderly neighbours.
Urgent health warnings were issued and paramedics dealt with a surge in calls amid fears the hot weather could result in deaths.
And fresh warnings about the dangers of outdoor swimming in the sunshine were issued after a man’s body was recovered from a reservoir in Tattingstone, Suffolk, at about 8pm Tuesday.
The Met Office recorded a temperature of 36.7C (98F) in Heathrow, making Britain hotter than Barcelona, Ibiza and Athens.
And bookmakers have slashed the odds on it being the hottest ever summer.
The weather got so hot male journalists in the House of Commons were allowed to break with tradition and take off their jackets and ties in the press gallery.
Jackets and ties had been strictly enforced by Commons doorkeepers for several years, since former speaker Michael Martin tightened standards.
John Bercow, the current speaker, approved a request from journalists as temperatures continued to rise.
Meanwhile, a soldier has fainted as he guarded the Prince of Wales as he paid tribute to Second World War heroes who helped prepare for the D-Day landings.
Charles was attending a service to commemorate the Combined Operations Pilotage Parties (Copp) memorial on Hayling Island seafront, Hampshire, when the soldier from the Royal Artillery based at Thorney Island fell forward on to the shingle beach.
Community responders attending the event rushed to his aid and brought him water to bring him round. After he was able to stand, the soldier was led away under the cover of an umbrella to applause from the crowd.
The heat also took its toll on the four Copp veterans, all in their 90s, whose chairs were moved into the shade of a marquee during the half-hour service.
When the temperatures get too hot at night it can get uncomfortable and even hamper sleeping at all, so here are a few suggestions that might help:
• Stop any activity or exercise a few hours before bedtime.
• Take a cool, but not cold, shower or bath.
• Find a cool, dark sleeping spot that is on a lower floor or in a basement.
• Sleep in cotton clothing ideally, as sleeping naked can make you feel hotter as moisture cannot evaporate between your body and your bed.
• Wipe your face, hands, and feet with a damp cloth and run your wrists under cold water for 30 seconds.
• Flip your pillows over to the cool side, or stick your pillow cases, bed sheets and blankets in the freezer 30 minutes before you go to bed.
• Open your windows an hour before bedtime to increase air circulation and cool down the room but close them before you fall asleep.
• Pointing the fan at your face, your back, or too close to your body. Keep a fan on, but don’t point the fan towards your face which could cause your neck muscles to stiffen and lead to allergies or illness.