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You are in: Suffolk » Don't Miss » 1953 East Coast Floods

31st January 2003
Eye witness accounts

By Lynne Patrick
rowing boat
Rescues went on throughout the night
BBC Radio Suffolk's David Webb talked to local people to find out what happened to them on the night of the floods.

Some people have sent us written accounts. These are their memories of that night:
FACTS

1953 EAST COAST FLOODS:

307 people drowned

24,000 homes flooded

1,200 breaches along 1,000 miles of coastline

160,000 acres of farmland flooded

46,000 livestock lost

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Aldeburgh:
Wilfrid George
was at a dance in Aldeburgh on the night of the flood, he had to struggle through the floodwater on his bicycle.

Bawdsey:

Ryan Coe was based at RAF Bawdsey. He talks about trying to fill the breaches in the dams and the visit of Prince Phillip.

Felixstowe:

Doris Watkins
and her family spent the night on the roof of their prefab in Langer Road. They lost their small daughter and almost lost their son.

Ivy Upson now lives in the bungalow where her parents drowned. Ivy explains the events of that night.

Derek Swann made a hole in the ceiling to get into the loft where he and his family stayed for hours and hours until it was safe to leave.

Richard Lord was seven years old. He spent the night in the bitter cold on the roof of his prefab, as it was pushed along by the flood water.

Janet Woods was living with her family in Dock Cottages. It was a three storey house and it became marooned by flood water.

Dorothy Little was trapped with two small children in her home in Nacton Road.

Joe Little - just five years old remembers being rescued by boat.

Violet Sparrow lived at Gasworks Cottages. She had to knock a hole in the ceiling and take shelter in the roof, with her three children.

Maureen Rooke (nee Sparrow) remembers dead animals from the farm in their living room. There was even a cow in there.

Bernard Adams was from a farming family. He tells of the race against time to save livestock trapped on the marshes.

Ione Waite lived in one of the prefabs. It floated off its foundations and ended up 200 yards down the road.

Christine Blazeby was five years old but remembers the night as if it was yesterday. She lost her Grandmother.

John & Barbara Minns both have vivid memories. John helped rescue people from the roofs of the prefabs.

Dorothy Kellogg worked for the British Red Cross. She assembled a team of helpers who went to Felixstowe to help with the clearing up.

Eric Shields was a serving Police Officer and was sent to Felixstowe to help with the rescue of people from the roof tops.

Keith Seeley
was at the dance at the Pier Pavilion. His friend, who was at the dance, drowned when he went to move his car.

Charlie Loomes was trapped in his home in Langer Road. He remembers seeing bodies laid out on the pavement.

Mary Jolly
was a boarder at Fleet House School. She remembers watching the farmers trying to save their livestock.

Ben and Monica Bennett had to be rescued, by boat, from their home in Levington Road.

Graham Hitchcock was working for Fisons. He helped in the aftermath of the floods.

Beryl Savidge worked for Fisons. She joined the team, organised by Fisons, to help with the clearing up operations.

Bert Ryder
talks about a failed attempt to rescue pigs from a sty in Walton Avenue.

Bryan and Jean Lake had to get their 22-stone landlady up the stairs to safety.

Gwen Howell watched the tide rising as her home in Manor Terrace was surrounded by deep water.

David Belton was 17 and a member of the Sea Scouts. He was called upon to man one of the rowing boats being used in the rescues.

Ipswich:
Andy Devine was a Fireman, on duty that night in Ipswich. He was also send to Southwold to help with clearing up operations.

Joyce Banham
talks about the flooding at her mother's bungalow on The Strand at Wherstead.

Dorothy Ablitt's mother was flooded in her home in Bath Street. Dorothy's husband lost 12 stocks of bees at Bourne Bridge.

Lowestoft:
Brian Soloman was 15 years old and biked down to Lowestoft to have a look at the damage caused by the floods.

Ivan Meadows
was a fireman on the railways. It was impossible to work as there was debris and sleepers everywhere.

Jane Jarvis watched the rescue of the children, by boat, from their party at St John's Church.

Colin Dixon
remembers the camaraderie of the Beach Village - everyone helping each other.

Bernard Riddlestone was Duty Inspector at Lowestoft Police Station. He was involved in the rescue of over 20 people from St John's Church.

Jacqueline Murkett
worked at the steam laundry at Beach Village - it was heavily flooded.

Oulton Broad:
Brian Soloman
's father was the Harbourmaster at Oulton Broad.

Southwold:

George Bumstead remembers the dramatic boat rescue of an American family when their bungalow was inundated with flood water.

Andy Devine was a Fireman, on duty that night in Ipswich. He was also send to Southwold to help with clearing up operations.

Wilfrid George was at Aldeburgh on the night of the flood, and went to Southwold on the Monday.

Eric Smith
is pictured at a flooded Woodbridge railway station and he went sandbagging with the army at Southwold.

Ray Smith was sent to Southwold by Suffolk County Council to help with the clear up of the devastation.

Thorpeness:
Wilfrid George
cycled back to Thorpeness after attending the dance at Aldeburgh.

Woodbridge:

Eric Smith is pictured at a flooded Woodbridge railway station and he went sandbagging with the army at Southwold.

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