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24 September 2014

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Audio. Your experiences of the 1953 floods

F Spence & Sons Haulage

On Sat 31st Jan 1953 at 11.30pm F Spence and Sons Haulage in Bilsby received a call from the county surveyor, Mr Tallyck, telling of an emergency. The sea had come in down the coast and vehicles were requested to collect the rowing boats from Skegness boating lake and deliver them to Sutton on Sea.

F Spence & Sons Haulage.
The fleet of haulage vehicles
Four drivers had to be found and woken up late at night to collect 30 rowing boats. The drivers went to collect four loads of rowing boats from the boating lake and took them to Sutton-On-Sea, but only reached Hannah, a mile and a half away from Sutton on Sea because the sea had blocked the way.

In the early hours of Sunday morning farmers tractors and army vehicles arrived and the boats were offloaded and taken in to Sutton on Sea and Mablethorpe to assist with the rescue operation.

On the following Monday the council commandeered the vehicles to assist with sea defences, this situation went on for some months. On the Tuesday following the floods Lloyds bank requested if it would be possible to transfer their 10 00 weight safe from Sutton on Sea to Alford. We understood that the safe was full of money - around £5000 – a lot of money then. The safe had to be rollered up a ramp on to the back of a flat bed lorry. This was no easy task nor getting it off at Alford.

Arrow. Have your say on the floods - email

Jack Bedford
Jack Bedford.
Jack Bedford in 1953

Jack Bedford was a telephone engineer, he was in Sutton on Sea at the time of the flood trying to keep communications open for as long as possible.

When the flood water became too deep he had to abandon his van and swim for it near the tram way crossing in Sutton on Sea.

Police picked him up around Hannah and brought him to Alford.

Cyril Harrison and Ken Millnes

Cyril Harrison was one of the first on the scene when news of the floods got out. He was an Excavator Operator for Alford Drainage Board. He had only been married for a few months and spent 36 hours trying to control the water at Anderby.

Cyril Harrison and Ken Millnes.
Cyril Harrison and Ken Millnes

PC Ken Millnes was a policeman in Alford in the sixties. He says the floods were still hot on people's lips when he arrived almost ten years later. The police set up a temporary station at a farm in Maltby le Marsh which soon became their headquarters.

Franklin Whaler from Anderby Creek

"I was in the navy at the time and I came back to Alford by train on Friday night. The floods happened on Saturday. My brother in law, Henry Lake was unhappy about the tide with the wind being north westerly gale force.

"He went to have a look at the sea around six o clock and the sea was very high which left him feeling unsettled. He went back half an hour later and the sea had broken through at Mogs Eye in Anderby. The sea was coming down the lane and he warned my sister Sybil to get John up to our mothers. She told Henry to take John whilst she packed some things. She went to warn Mr and Mrs Hackney and Mr and Mrs Rose, when she got back home, the sea had come through.

"She managed to get out the front door and made for the bridge which was across the dyke in front of the properties. Unfortunately, she missed the bridge and fell in the dyke. She scrambled out to the pavement making her way up to her mothers. She met Mr Smith who told her she would not make it home because the sea was over as far as the pump house. She went back with him to his home and his wife pulled them through the kitchen window.

"It wasn't until about 2am that we knew where she was. Henry borrowed some thigh boots and walked along the pavement shining a torch to the property. It was then we knew where Sybil was safe.!

More experiences

Arrow. What are your memories of the floods? Do you have pictures of that fateful day in January 1953? Share your thoughts by emailing

See also: Flood advice | After a flood
| Flood facts | Flooding then and now | Useful links | Pictures of the flooding

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