It is that time of year when the nation holds it collective breath and prays for sunshine for the August Bank Holiday. But the history of this public holiday does not inspire much confidence.
When the holiday was introduced in 1871 it fell on the first Monday of August, when there was a better chance of decent weather. But a few washouts during the 1950s and 1960s persuaded the politicians to shift the Bank Holiday to the last Monday in August. It was an amazing act of folly. The first late August Bank Holiday in 1965 was thoroughly autumnal, with showers and a distinctly cold nip in the air, and things went downhill from there. Thunderstorms erupted over the holiday in 1966 and the following year many places were shrouded in thick fog that led to heavy holiday traffic jams.
The weather on this Bank Holiday often signals the change from summer to autumn. None was as dramatic as the long, hot drought of 1976, when everyone expected August to end with a glorious Bank Holiday. Instead, the rain crashed down in a deluge that heralded a soaking wet autumn.
To be fair, the whole of August can sometimes be a damp squib, just like this year. August 1986 was especially grim, but no one imagined that the Bank Holiday would be wrecked by the leftovers of a hurricane called Charley. The remains of the storm turbo-charged a normal Atlantic depression, which went on to batter Britain with colossal downpours and set off serious floods in North Wales.
Scotland probably has the right idea, though. It continues to enjoy the original August Bank Holiday, on the first Monday of the month.
“Well lets hope today is better weather than in the past! Even if it is not we hope you still enjoy the day” says Greengates Builders Merchants Accrington, Lancashire