BUSINESSES in Winchester were boosted by the blazing weather as residents and tourists alike flocked in to spend money and enjoy the weather.

According to statistics calculated by Winchester BID, footfall figures in the High Street last weekend surged by two-thirds compared to the same weekend the previous year.

The hot weather saw a 67 per cent increase in people in the city centre last Friday afternoon and evening, than on the same day in 2010.

But it was not just street traders who benefited from the sun, as traditional summer businesses cashed in on the unusually late heatwave.

Jim Wright, operations director at Jude’s Ice Cream in Twyford, said business had never been as good in autumn before.

He said: “The hot weather has definitely been a boost to us over the past week, it feels like we have been going through a normal busy summer week.

“We have had a pretty busy summer but last week came with a bit of a surprise, this inevitably made everyone want and need ice cream in quick succession in preparation for the weekend.”

He added: “The dairy has never been as busy as we have been during September/October time before.”

Temperatures in the city soared, and the weather station at Otterbourne recorded the highest temperatures in the county at 27.8C at 3pm on Saturday, comprehensively beating the previous October high in 1997 of 23.3C.

The cathedral grounds in Winchester are traditionally where people come to worship — but last week it was the sun that brought them to laze in the grounds.

And thousands more turned up for the traditional Hampshire harvest market over the weekend, filling the Cathedral Green with picnic baskets, sunglasses and sun tan lotion.

Along with the traders, there was plenty of entertainment on offer as well, with live music from Winchester Music School and children’s activities.

Sparsholt College, which helped organise the event along with Hampshire Farmers’ Market, the cathedral, the county council and the New Forest Show, put on a range of games for children to help teach them about healthy foods.

Martin Simpson-Scott, marketing officer at the college, said: “This was a bit of fun for families and children. We tought them about which foods were good for them, and it was also a really good opportunity to advertise land-based industry to younger people.”

The two-day event concluded with a special harvest service at the cathedral on Sunday attended by the Mayor of Winchester, and the leaders of Hampshire and Winchester councils.

Meanwhile, the Dean of Winchester, The Very Rev James Atwell, held a special two-course lunch on Sunday to celebrate the weekend with a guest speech from Julian Lewis, chairman of the Hampshire National Farmers’ Union.