Furnace-like heat has engulfed the districts on the opening two days of this week, leading to safety warnings, school closures, health fears, travel disruption and unprecedented precautions.
But forecasters were expecting 38C, or even an unheard-of 40C, on Tuesday afternoon. The July average for Mansfield is 22C (71F)
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Monday was officially the hottest day in Nottinghamshire since records began, with a scorching all-time high of 36.7C recorded in Sutton Bonington in Rushcliffe, beating the record of 36.1C, set in 1990 and 2019.
Elsewhere in the country, the dial burst through 40C for the first time when Heathrow in London registered 40.2C at 12.50 pm on Tuesday.
The mini-heatwave, fuelled by climate change, forced the Met Office to issue its first-ever red weather warning, saying there was a genuine risk of danger to life.
Many people in Mansfield and Ashfield have struggled to cope with the oppressive conditions, particularly at work and when trying to sleep at night.
Hundreds of children were given an extra day off school on Tuesday when the Diverse Academies Trust opted to close its academies for safety reasons.
The schools affected were Queen Elizabeth’s, Redgate Primary and Wainwright Primary in Mansfield, Yeoman Park in Mansfield Woodhouse, Samuel Barlow Primary in Clipstone and Hillocks Primary in Sutton.
A statement from the trust read: “On Monday, we experienced exceptionally hot weather, and the extreme heat was set to worsen on Tuesday.
"The health and safety of our children, young people and staff is of paramount importance.”
Other schools have tried to operate as normal, although many restrictions on uniform have been lifted after complaints by angry parents.
King’s Mill Hospital in Sutton and Mansfield Community Hospital have been trying to maintain business as usual, with most appointments going ahead as planned.
Medics feared increased cases of dehydration, heat exhaustion, sunburn and sunstroke, but those needing treatment were urged to call 111 rather than clog up emergency lines.
Dr David Selwyn, of King’s Mill, said: “Prevention is often the best way to avoid becoming unwell when it is extremely warm.
"There are simple things we can all do, such as drinking plenty of water, applying sunscreen, avoiding excess alcohol and avoiding unsupervised swimming in open water.”
The swimming warning was reiterated by Ashfield Fire Station at Kirkby, where a spokesman stressed the dangers of drowning. He said: “The weather might be hot, but never be tempted to jump into rivers, streams or lakes to cool off.
"Don’t dare your mates to do it either because you may never see them again. Cold-water shock can kill.”
Other firefighters were busy putting out blazes in fields and woodland on Monday evening.
A crew from the Shirebrook station were called to a field fire at Bolsover Castle, which is believed to have been started deliberately.
They prevented it from spreading and thanked “everyone involved for an amazing effort”. They also praised local residents for supplying the firefighters with “a constant flow of cold bottled water”.
Meanwhile crews extinguished two fires in woodland on the pit tip behind Sherwood Energy Village in Ollerton and then at Ollerton Pit Wood, off Newark Road.
A spokesman urged members of the public not to discard cigarettes or light camp fires while the land is so dry.
Passengers were urged not to travel on trains on Monday and Tuesday because, according to East Midlands Railway, “journeys will take twice as long and return services are likely to be cancelled.”
A spokesman explained: “Tracks are typically 20 degrees warmer than the air above, so this extreme heat can cause them to buckle and bend, which poses a safety risk.”
On the Robin Hood Line, peak-time train services were reduced, while trains to and from London were limited and the speeds of other services were drastically cut.
The heatwave forced Mansfield District Council to cancel some housing repair appointments to prevent workers operating in small spaces or direct sunlight.
Bin collections went ahead as usual, but early-morning starts were made to avoid the worst of the heat.
At Ashfield District Council. Coun Helen-Ann Smith, deputy leader, thanked staff for “working through this record heat”.
She said: “Our services have not been impacted at all. This is due to some staff starting their jobs earlier, and others working from home.
"While a few residents have expressed concerns about pets, we have had few issues.
“Residents have been following advice and only heading out if they have to. But we will continue to be vigilant and respond to any concerns raised with us.
"Ashfield has been the hottest since records began, but I couldn’t be prouder with how we have coped. As with Covid, the council is used to challenges and we have met every one of them.”
Meanwhile, the White Post Farm visitor attraction in Farnsfield closed on Monday and Tuesday so it could concentrate on keeping the animals cool and well hydrated during the extreme heat.
Staff froze the animals’ treats in water to form giant ice cubes that they could tuck into. They also dug trenches to fill with water, creating baths, and even gave the alpacas a shower (see video above).
The temperatures are expected to cool down on Wednesday in Mansfield and Ashfield to a maximum of 24C and even drop to 20C on Friday before warming up again over the weekend. Next week is expected to be near normal at about 22C.