Summer is fast approaching - and now seems an appropriate time to cast our minds back to the blisteringly hot summer of 1976 in Weymouth.

That year there was an intense heatwave - one of the driest summers on record with temperatures well into the 90s Fahrenheit (30s Celsius ).

Click into our photo gallery above to see full-sized images of the exceptionally hot summer of 1976 in Dorset.

People enjoyed clear blue skies, relentless sunshine and enough vitamin D to last a lifetime; it was so parched that a sizeable proportion of the canal system dried up.

There was even a Minister for Rain (former Sports Minister Dennis Howell), who is remembered for encouraging people to share a bath together, as water shortages affected every corner of the land.

Of course many people headed straight to Weymouth beach to cool down in those sweltering conditions.

Our picture gallery contains a wonderful collection of postcards of Weymouth and the surrounding area dating back to the 1970s.

Several of them are thought to come from the legendary hot summer of 1976 but you can see from many of them how much Weymouth has changed in the intervening decades – and also how much has stayed the same.

Our collector bought the cards at a car boot sale and the intriguing thing about many of them is that they have been written, stamped, posted and franked – but without the correspondent filling out the address section.

The writers of the postcards are full of praise for the resort and – in 1976 certainly – the weather.

Comments from that very hot summer include ‘it’s really hot here, Theresa is very badly sunburnt’, ‘the weather is very good’, ‘it is terribly hot’ and even ‘we keep moving around to keep cool’.

The correspondents also praise the town for its beauty, the good food and the entertainment laid on at the Pavilion theatre.

‘We are going to the theatre tonight to see ‘2 and 2 make Sex’ with Ian Lavender. We are eating well – too well.’

To share more memories like these see our Facebook nostalgia group We Grew Up in Weymouth and Portland 

During that summer, over in Poole, firemen battled with fire spreading at Canford Heath where there were fears that bombs left over from the last war might ignite.

As the summer continued school sports days were cancelled and pupils from Avonbourne School staged a walk-out because it was too hot to work.

In August fires were so common they regularly made the headline news. Thousands of trees were destroyed in woodland and heathland blazes at Ebblake, near Ringwood, Matchams, and Avon Causeway and Brownsea Island was closed to the public because of the high risk of fire.

Five hundred people heading for the historic Matchams Country Club, owned by Gerry Dommett, were trapped in Matchams Stadium, as fire blazed around them in one of the worst fires New Forest had seen.

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Hundreds of holidaymakers and residents had to be evacuated as 50ft high flames came within yards of Oakdene caravan site at St Leonards.

On one Sunday in August Denis Blakeway of Bransgore captured on film the drama of one such fire that could have had more serious consequences.

“Two quaint old thatched cottages were gutted, but the famous Cat and Fiddle Inn only yards away on the other side of the road escaped unscathed, along with Hinton Service Station”, reported the Echo.

“Each of the cottages was occupied by an elderly woman, one of whom, Miss Mildred Sprackling, was led to safety by a neighbour moments before the flames struck. The other occupant, Miss Edith Brown, was taken from her cottage shortly before it went up by a Highcliffe couple, Mr and Mrs Bob Stried, who were passing in their car”.

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Other neighbouring properties also had to be evacuated. Mildred and Edith were retired employees of Sir George Meyrick of Meyrick Estates who owned the land the cottages stood on.

The fierce blaze left a trail of ravaged gardens, fields and woodland before a strong south easterly wind sent it roaring across the A35 to engulf Guss Common on the edge of Burton.

Traffic chaos ensued while local people and other volunteers rallied round.