It wasn't half hot then...

It is the benchmark by which all others are measured. And even the mere mention of the word heatwave sends thoughts spiralling back 30 years to the long, hot summer of 1976.

It is the benchmark by which all others are measured. And even the mere mention of the word heatwave sends thoughts spiralling back 30 years to the long, hot summer of 1976.

But for those who sweated through shared baths, standpipes and weeks of temperatures nudging 95F nothing has, so far, come close.

Our current mini-heatwave appears to have reached its peak with soaring temperatures settling down to a more manageable - though still uncomfortably muggy - 25-30C in the next few days.

Although records were broken this week, spare a thought for those melting during the 16-month dry spell in '76 where temperatures exceeded 32C at one or more stations in the UK every day between June 23 and July 7.

Then the heatwave started over East Anglia and intensified with an average of more than 14 hours of bright sunshine each day during that period.

On June 26 the temperature reached 33.1C in parts of Norfolk, making it the hottest day of the year.

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A quick look at archive copies of the EDP shows people trying to buy air conditioning in Norwich that month were out of luck as the great heatwave sent people scurrying to the shops.

John Hart, a director of Eyre (Electrical), of Sprowston Road, said demand for fans had far outweighed supplies.

But there was good news for beer drinkers with pub stocks holding out.

Roger Cawdron, landlord of the Adam and Eve in Bishopgate, Norwich said there was no shortage of beer despite a big increase in sales.

The pub had taken on two extra staff to cope with increased demand.

Melting ice cream was a problem for van drivers from the Aldous Lakenham Cremery and the demand for soft drinks had been exceptionally high according to Robin Harvey, acting manager of Corona Soft Drinks of Mile Cross Lane, Norwich.

On June 10 the heat put Trowse swing bridge out of action with rail passengers travelling in and out of Norwich held up for an hour.

As in 2006, melting roads were also a problem and firefighters had their work cut out for them dealing with grass, crop and hedgerow fires in tinder dry conditions.

The hot weather also produced some surprises; ladybirds were breeding in phenomenal numbers and swarms could be seen on the coastal dunes.

As reservoirs dried up and cracked, a special Drought Bill gave wide powers to local authorities enabling them to give heavy fines to people caught wasting water.

One Norfolk man was fined when he admitted using a garden hosepipe during the prohibited period but said he was unaware he was breaking the law.

In July, a mixture of heat and drought brought on early crops of peas, strawberries and barley, according to Ray Carter, the Ministry of Agriculture's divisional officer for Norfolk.

Several years since the heady days of the 70s - including 1995, 2003 and now 2006 - give worrying credibility to the view that extreme weather is set to become more of a norm.

Perhaps we have become more adept at dealing with it or maybe it is just that advances in technology (such as air conditioning) have made it more bearable.