The summer of 1976 saw desert conditions at Grafham Water

Grafham Water provides nature and sport activities.

Grafham Water provides nature and sport activities. - Credit: ARCHANT

During the summer of June and July of 1976 it was hot, hot, hot!

The region experienced an average rainfall of just 1.5 inches over the two-month period which triggered a serious drought.

Anglian Water were forced to put restrictions in place in May, but soon things got so bad that the fire service were banned from using piped water to replenish their fire engines and farmers were asked to reduce stubble burning.

Grafham Water levels fell to an all-time low and ancient tree stumps, which had been submerged 14 feet under the reservoir, began to protrude above the scorched ground.

Grafham Water in the summer of 1976

Grafham Water in the summer of 1976 - Credit: ARCHANT

Freshly re-surfaced roads in Huntingdonshire began to melt and sand and stone chips were spread over the surfaces in a round-the-clock operation.

On Saturday, June 27, at RAF Wyton, a temperature of 34 degrees Celsius was recorded. Plans for standpipes in the streets were being discussed.

Behind the scenes, Anglian Water was discussing plans for stand pipes in the streets, which meant one stand pipe for every 40 homes.

The reserve in the summer of 1976 after a severe drought.

The reserve in the summer of 1976 after a severe drought. - Credit: ARCHANT

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Eventually the rain came back, arriving just in time for the August Bank Holiday Monday. With relief and disappointment in equal measure, two inches of rain fell in two days, which was more than the whole of June and July combined.

The Grafham Water Nature Reserve was opened in 1966, but the Duke of Edinburgh. The Duke was the patron and returned again in 2016 to celebrate the centre's 50th anniversay.

It is the third largest reservoir in England and sits in 1500 acres of beautiful countryside and is a designated Site of Scientific Interest. At the western end, is a 280-acre nature reserve which contains ancient woodland which is home to important populations of several birds and amphibian species.

Grafham is a popular area for trout fishing and its nine-mile circular track provides a good location for walkers and cyclists. It also has a large picnic area and its own sailing club, which recently reopened to the public after lockdown restrictions were eased.