The new record was set in Cambridge at 15:37 on Thursday, beating the previous record of 36.7°C set in Heathrow in 2015 and coming close to the all-time UK temperature record of 38.5°C, recorded in Faversham in August 2003.

Exceptionally high temperatures have gripped parts of Scotland and much of central, eastern and southern England today as a plume of hot air continues to push northwards from the Continent.   Large parts of central and western Europe, including Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands have seen their highest ever temperatures this week, as an historic heatwave sees temperatures climb into the low to mid 40s Celsius. 

Heatwaves are extreme weather events, but research shows that with climate change they are likely to become more frequent. Met Office projections show that heatwaves with the intensity of last summer's event could occur on average as regularly as every other year by the middle of the century. 

Owen Landeg, Principal Environmental Public Health Scientist at Public Health England said: “Much of the advice on beating the heat is common sense and for many people spells of warmer weather are something they very much enjoy. However, for some people, such as older people, those with underlying health conditions and young children, the summer heat can bring real health risks. That’s why we’re urging everyone to keep an eye on those you know who may be at risk this summer.

"If you’re able, ask if your friends, family or neighbours need any support. Also take water with you when travelling and keep up to date with weather forecasts.

"It’s also worth remembering to think about practical steps to keep homes cool during the day as this can aid sleeping at night and give the body time to recover from the heat.”

After Thursday’s peak heat temperatures are expected to return closer to normal as we head through the weekend, with the weather becoming less settled and an increased chance of rain for many eastern and north-eastern areas.