The Midlands may have been battered by rain and 60mph gusts yesterday but crowds still defied the elements to flock to one of Birmingham's major annual events.

The poor weather failed to dampen the spirits of about 1,000 people who had attended the Lord Mayor's Show by late afternoon yesterday. More were expected at Cannon Hill Park for an evening of fireworks and live music performances before the event finished last night.

A spokesman for Birmingham City Council, which organised the event, said: "It has been a very entertaining day - despite the appalling weather.

"The winds and torrential rain has failed to dampen the spirits of the people of all ages who have enjoyed a good day out featuring many fun activities which have all helped good causes."

According to MeteoGroup, the Press Association's weather division, it was a gloomy day in the Midlands but a pleasant day in northern England.

Rain and winds began in the South and slowly moved towards the Midlands and Wales as the afternoon progressed.

Meteorologist Rachel Vince, of MeteoGroup, said: "It has not been a great day in the Midlands with temperatures of 13C (55F) in the Birmingham area.

"It has been one of the coldest places in the country over the weekend. The rain settled after the morning and there was more persistent and heavy rain later in the day.

"The wind has been a lot heavier than the average for this time of year.

"People in northern England will probably be wondering what all the fuss is about. It's been sunny with just a light breeze up there - a real North-South divide."

Ms Vince said it would become warmer as the week progressed, but that thunderstorms could be expected overnight and tomorrow morn-ing. The bad weather did save motorists from Bank Holiday travel misery as the roads were relatively quiet throughout most of the region. Traffic flowed freely on the roads in the usually congested Bank Holiday hotspots as rain and strong winds convinced many fun-seekers to stay indoors.

RAC spokesman Adam Cracknell said: "The good old English weather means the nar-row coastal roads are clear. When the weather is good these are the roads that become congested."

However, rail passengers suffered severe disruption as delays and cancellations were experienced on many lines across England and Wales.

A spokesperson for National Rail Enquiries said: "It's been hectic today. We've had flooding in Southampton so there's no trains going in and out of the city and it's always apopular destination on Bank Holidays.

"To make things worse we've had trees on the line in Wales and Birmingham and no trains going in and out of London Euston.

"We've been really busy today in the call centre with passengers looking for alternative routes."

Things ran more smoothly for air passengers flying from Heathrow Airport, which made headlines earlier in the year following the opening of the troubled Terminal 5. BAA confirmed only four inbound and four outbound flight cancellations.

A BAA spokesperson said: "This is hardly any at all when you consider the number of flights going in and out of Heathrow."

Similarly, Channel ferry services were resuming normality after a problematic week caused by French fishermen striking.

A spokesperson for P&O Ferries said: "It's wet and windy down here and it's always busy on Bank Holidays but all of our 25 crossings are running without delays."