1976 drought UK: who was minister for drought Denis Howell?

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During the 1976 drought, the government encouraged people to “save water, bathe with a friend”

Water utilities have already imposed hose bans in some regions, with further restrictions expected once the drought is known.

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The persistent heat has drawn parallels with the 1976 drought, during which communities were encouraged to “save water, bathe with a friend” to conserve water.

The situation got so bad that the government appointed Denis Howell Minister for Drought.

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Here’s everything you need to know about the 1976 drought and who Denis Howell was.

Denis Howell was appointed Minister for Drought in 1976 (Image: Mazic News/Kim Mogg)

Who was Denis Howell?

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Denis Howell was a Labor MP elected to represent Birmingham Small Heath.

The son of a gas fitter and storekeeper, he joined the Labor Party in 1942 and slowly worked his way up the political ranks.

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He is best known for his appointment as Minister for Drought during the 1976 heat wave.

Before assuming this position, Howell previously served as Minister for Sport and Minister for Housing.

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In 1992 he was elected a peer, earning him the title of Baron Howell.

Howell died in 1998 at the age of 74 after suffering a heart attack while attending a charity event.

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When was he appointed Minister for Drought?

Howell was appointed Minister for Drought in the last week of August 1976.

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Just seven days after taking office, Britain was hit by torrential rains, causing widespread flooding.

This led to him being given the nickname “Minister for Rain”.

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Denis Howel, Minister for Drought in the operating room of his London office (Photo: Getty Images)

How long did the 1976 drought last?

The 1976 drought was caused by prolonged drought that had started the previous summer of 1975.

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Warm summer weather continued into autumn and winter, with the UK experiencing its driest 11 months on record.

By the winter of 1975 the reservoirs in England and Wales were half full and when the predicted rains failed to materialize in the spring of 1976 things only got worse.

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The 1976 heat wave, which lasted 15 days, resulted in a staggering 45 days of no rain in some areas of the UK.

It caused widespread fires in southern England and food prices rose quickly as crops were damaged by the heat.

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In response to the growing crisis, the Government passed the Drought Bill and appointed Denis Howell MP as Minister for Drought.

It all ended quite suddenly in September 1976 when heavy rains caused widespread flooding.

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A public information notice warning of the drought in the Bridport area of ​​Dorset (Image: Getty Images)

How many droughts have there been?

Britain has been hit by many droughts over the past century.

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Droughts have been traced back to the 1880s, with the earliest notable drought of the 20th century occurring in 1920–1921.

Recent droughts to hit the UK include: 2004-2006 and 2010-2012.

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The UK recently declared a drought in regions of England, with water companies expected to introduce restrictions.

What restrictions were put in place during the 1976 drought?

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The government introduced restrictions to conserve water in the hardest-hit areas.

Water rationing measures were introduced, resulting in the main water supply being shut off in these areas.

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Instead, standpipes, a type of municipal faucet, were installed for residents to ration water use.

This meant that residents had to queue at the tap to access water for drinking, washing, cooking or bathing and could only draw a certain amount.

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There have been many public awareness campaigns to encourage people to save water.

In London, residents were told: “Save Water, Bath with a Friend”.

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