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  1. ITV Report

The West Country remembers the hot summer of '76

A family under attack by ladybirds on a Somerset beach Credit: ITV News

This summer, it feels as though we've spent more time reaching for our umbrellas than our sunglasses.

It was a very different story 40 years ago.

The summer of 1976 was - and remains - our longest recorded spell of hot weather. Here in the West Country, we went for 45 days without any rain at all.

You have been sharing your memories of the drought.

Remember the ladybirds? Hungry because there weren't any aphids to eat they started biting humans instead.

We had to leave the beach and go into the town. We went to Weston-super-Mare and all you could see was ladybirds everywhere - all over the floor, the beach. All over the people as well.

– Sharon Hopton

Remember it well - my mum-in-law's shrubs were absolutely covered in ladybirds down in Dorset.

– Yvonne Chubb

I was a nurse at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital.

Night duty, and almost impossible to sleep by day due to the heat. Living in hospital flat in the grounds, and at least no water ban there, though we had to be careful with it.

I remember plagues of ladybirds, which bit humans, including me, have been wary of ladybirds landing on me since!

– Vivien Orman
The water-starved ground in Somerset Credit: ITV News

I remember it well. Lived right on the border of Devon & Somerset on a farm.

Little stream outside the front gate, three young daughters 2, 3, & 7. Didn't have to worry about hosepipe ban as we had our own spring in the woods.

It did get very shallow eventually.

– Margaret Harber

My brother was born on 17 June and the weather got hot when he was bought home.

We lived at Selsley, Gloucestershire and had to walk up the hill to get water. I can just imagine what people would say today.

– Susan Jayne Evans

I remember a water shortage and a tanker coming around to give us water we filled everything we could - buckets and bottles.

– Susan Haskins from Shepton Mallet
The endless summer of 76 - there hasn't been anything like it since Credit: ITV News

I remember it being a wonderful summer. Although we shared bath water and didn't water the garden we were lucky we didn't have to collect water.

– Sue Ridley

I remember a visit to Fernworthy Reservoir to find the water level the lowest I had ever seen with the ruins of an old farmhouse revealed

– Carol Baker from Chagford, Devon
People stripped off layers in the sun at any opportunity - not too many thoughts about skin cancer then Credit: ITV News

I remember thinking how 'kind' it was of the bowling club next to our halls of residence in Redland, Bristol letting us girls dance around under the sprinklers on their precious grass in our bikinis!!!

No pictures I'm afraid!!!!

– Lucy Davies-Coward

My parents lived on a steep hill. I went down it fast on my Mk1 chopper bike and lost control as a result of the melting Tarmac. I went over the handle bars and smashed into the kerb. I may be a bit mad now!!

– Stuart Thompson

Sharing bath water, saving the washing up water to water the plants and garden, a brick in the cistern.

When the ban was lifted my husband and I had a bucket of water and threw it along the path!

– Rose Glanfield from Newton Abbot

Putting ice cubes in my tropical fish tank to try and keep the temperature down

– Al Tuppen from Bristol
Too hot to do anything but sunbathe Credit: ITV News

There was even a shortage of potatoes - lack of rain meant they hadn't grown.

So it was rice or pasta with everything in those days that was quite new.

My lawns went brown. A few people cheated and watered their lawns late at night but they got caught out because their lawns were so green

– Barbara Julian from Helston

I remember it well - working in an office with one tiny window and no fans then.

By the end of the summer I was praying for rain.

– Alison Sage from Temple Cloud
The downpour that finally ended the drought Credit: ITV News

We had one small drizzle of rain - first in three months - and everyone was dancing in the street. Good old days.

– Michelle Osborne from Kewstoke

Labour appointed a minister of drought - Dennis Howell - who promptly became minister of rain and then flood!

– Mark Hemmings