Selected August Bank Holidays pre-1960


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(Only the date & the weather of the Monday given, unless otherwise stated.)

1922: (7th August)
UNSETTLED & WET.


August 1922 was cool with a marked lack of sunshine. It was particularly wet over the Bank Holiday weekend, particularly on the 6th (Sunday) and 7th (Monday). A low moved very slowly eastward across southern Britain, with a freshening east to northeast wind affecting northern regions. 125mm of rain was recorded at Worksop [Nottinghamshire] over 28hr over these two days, and a 24hr rainfall of 62.2mm was recorded at Weston Park, Sheffield on the 7th (Monday), which at the time was the highest daily total at this station in a record that started in 1883. However, areas sheltered to the easterly flow across northern areas had a reasonable day.

1931: (3rd August)
FINE/ANTICYCLONIC IN NORTH; STRONG/GUSTY NE WIND MUCH ENGLAND/WALES.

The weather pattern over the weekend was fairly static: high pressure stretched from NW Ireland across Scotland to southern Scandinavia, with low pressure over northern France. On the Monday, this produced a strong, gusty east or northeast wind over much of England and Wales, but lighter winds, with plenty of sunshine and reasonable temperatures further north. Whilst large areas of the country remained dry on this day, some severe thunderstorms broke out across central and southern England, though the worst of the storms came after the Holiday.

1938: (1st August)
MOSTLY FINE/WARM & SUNNY. ISOLATED THUNDERSTORMS SOUTHWEST.

Large anticyclone was covering much of the British Isles on the Bank Holiday Monday, with main centres to the north and west. A cyclonic flow covered northern France, fringing into southern-most England: a brisk, locally chilly easterly breeze here. Thunderstorms were reported in the southwest with 31 mm of rain falling at St. Ives (Cornwall). For most though, a fine day, with pleasantly warm sunshine, moderate breezes - light air in the north. Maximum temperatures reached 30 degC in London and Reading (Berkshire).

1940: (5th August)
FINE/BRIGHT IN SOUTH; SHOWERY IN NORTH - WIND EASING.

The weekend had started very unsettled in the north, with rain crossing most regions here, but by Monday, although there were still showers about (trough moving east into the North Sea), it became bright and mostly dry from the west, if still on the breezy side. Across southern Britain (where the brunt of any German invasion was expected to fall), the weather continued fine, dry and warm - as most of the images of the period indicate. (The "Battle of Britain" - air attacks on these islands - began on the 8th August.)
[ This month was exceptionally dry in many southern English regions. No rain whatsoever was recorded this month at Hastings, Sussex.]

1943: (2nd August)
POOR START, BUT FINE/HOT BANK HOLIDAY MONDAY IN SOUTH.


A poor start to the holiday weekend with an active areas of low pressure bringing periods of rain & strong winds to most places. However, on Holiday Monday, northern regions had a bright or sunny day, with the showers becoming lighter and well-scattered as pressure rose. In the south, with light winds and plenty of sunshine, it turned out quite hot inland.

1946: (5th August)
WARM WITH PLENTY OF SUNSHINE. BREEZIER WITH SHOWERS NORTHWEST.


The weekend was reasonably warm inland with plenty of sunshine, though by Monday, a strengthening south or southwest wind affected many northern and western areas, this extending to much of the rest of the country by Monday evening. With the freshening breeze, onshore coasts were cooler, but as many beaches were still festooned with anti-invasion barbed-wire and tank-blocks, the sands were not always the safest of places to be!
[ This was the first "properly" post-war August Bank Holiday. The European segment of that conflict (1939-1945) had finished in May (7th), but the conflict was not concluded until the dropping of the first Atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 .. the Japanese surrendered to the Allies on August 14th, 1945. In August 1945 (the previous year), tens of thousands of service personnel were unable to be with families and friends, and rationing was in full force - indeed, in the years immediately after the end of the War, shortages and general lack of prosperity for the apparent 'victors' was to be marked. ]

1947: (4th August)
FINE/WARM IN NORTH; BECOMING UNSETTLED IN SOUTH.

Although this holiday was not as spectacular as some, it did come at the start of a month that was to prove one of the warmest, sunniest and driest Augusts for a very long time. No rain at all fell in parts of Scotland and eastern England, and it was exceptionally dry in many other areas. [ It should be remembered that the February and March of this year had seen the 'Great 1947 snowy-spell', so some warmth & sunshine was most welcome. Also, shortages were still rife in the aftermath of the War: no popping off to sunnier climes for Mr & Mrs 'Average Brit!'. ]

1948: (2nd August)
VERY THUNDERY - LOCAL TORRENTIAL DOWNPOURS.


The first half of this month was often wet and notably thundery. 50mm of rain fell from one storm in just 35 minutes at Silchester (near Basingstoke) on the 2nd (Monday), and with 102 mm at Neath (South Wales) & 100mm at Silsoe (Bedfordshire) on the same day - though over longer periods. In contrast though (and often the case), it was fine & sunny - if somewhat breezy, across north and west Scotland and much of Northern Ireland with a solid area of high pressure close-by.
[ This turned out to be an exceptionally wet month for some: in particular, in the Tweed valley, extensive & devastating flooding occurred after heavy rains on the 11th & 12th: the main east coast main railway line was out of use for 3 months. Flooding occurred elsewhere across the country. ]

1954: (2nd August)
GENERALLY COOL AND WET: WARM SUNDAY FOR ENGLAND.


July 1954 was most unusually disturbed (windy, cool and rather cloudy), with no dominant areas of high pressure and a succession of Atlantic frontal disturbances bringing frequent rainfall to western & southern regions. The holiday continued the same theme, with some heavy rain reported over this period, particularly early on Bank Holiday Monday as an occluding frontal-system moved quickly eastwards (on rather brisk west or southwest winds), replaced across northern and some central areas by brighter, but showery weather - heavy showers northern Scotland: it also turned cooler across the north. However, to relieve a little of the gloom, Sunday was reasonably warm (& humid) across much of England - though it turned out to be one of only two days with notably above-average temperatures during August 1954. Coastal areas were never warm, and it could best be described as 'bracing'!

1955: (1st August)
ANTICYCLONIC: FINE AND WARM.


Pressure was already high to the north and west of these islands on Friday, but a chill north wind brought showers to some eastern areas for a time. However, even these faded away as the ridge toppled southeastwards during Saturday - with dry weather for most for the rest of the weekend. A fine Holiday Monday, with light or moderate breezes, large amounts of sunshine and inland afternoon temperatures for many into the mid-20's degC, and locally higher in the sheltered east and sunnier central and southern districts of England.
[ July and August of 1955 were fine, dry and warm - the fine weather extending into September for some. ]

1956: (6th August)
NOTABLY COLD, WITH SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS FOR SOME.


The weather pattern was very disturbed. Bank Holiday Monday was a notably poor day - regarded at the time as 'one of the worst on record'! The day was dominated by a cool northerly airflow (though it's strength had eased from the previous days). There were some spectacular (& slow-moving) thunderstorms, with large hail and some 4ft (over 1m) of water causing flooding in Tunbridge Wells (Kent). The storm started mid-morning, with heavy rain and the hail started just before midday. At one point, the centre of the town was buried under a foot (~30cm) of hail-ice, with drifts of hailstones up to 4ft (~1m) deep. In other areas, 62mm of rain fell in one hour at Swanage (Dorset) & Arundel (Sussex); 80mm of rain at Faversham (Kent). The midday temperature in central London was just 13degC (c.f. the average day maximum of 22degC). On this measure, it was regarded as the coldest Bank Holiday Monday in the capital since 1880.
[ This August was one of the coldest and wettest of the 20th century. ]

1957: (5th August)
THUNDERY BREAKDOWN: INTENSE RAINSTORMS/FLOODING FOR SOME.


The month started warm and sunny, and the Saturday & Sunday of this holiday weekend were also fine, mostly dry and sunny. On Monday though, the high cell retreated northwards, allowing a thundery trough to encroach from the southwest. Many heavy rainfall reports: 105mm of rain fell in 90 minutes at Hereford, with damage due to hail & strong winds (tornado?). Further heavy rainfall during the Monday evening & overnight at Rodsley (Derbyshire) led to serious flooding over a wide area here, with reports of flooding in Wales too. Until the heavens opened though, England & Wales experienced very warm and humid conditions; the weather over Scotland too remained fine throughout.

1959: (3rd August)
MOSTLY DRY: BEST SUNSHINE & WARMER IN SOUTHWEST & SHELTERED EAST.

Pressure rose steadily from the southwest through the latter part of this weekend, and by Monday, a blustery west or northwest wind was the lot of most. Given this wind direction, daytime maxima were not spectacular, though in the sunnier southwest, and some sheltered eastern districts, it was a pleasantly warm day. As so often in these situations though, cloud amounts in the northwest were large.
[ One of the three or four hottest and sunniests Augusts of the 20th century; part of a prolonged warm and sunny summer. ]


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