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

31st January 2003
Graham Hitchcock, Felixstowe
Graham Hitchcock was working for Fisons at the time of the floods. Here is his written account 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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Graham HitchcockI had started work from school in September 1952 at Fisons, Harvest House, Felixstowe as an office junior. A great company, with a wonderful Chairman, Sir Clavering Fison.

On the 1st February 1953 we all went to work to discover how much Felixstowe had suffered.

As I worked for the Office Manager (Dennis Howard) my duties covered the building maintenance of Harvest House. George Horseley, the maintenance foreman, suggested we go on the roof. The sight of the flooding from the Ordnance Hotel to the Docks, along Langer Road, was horrendous.

Sir Clavering Fison asked for 12 volunteers a day to help people move their furniture and house contents to storage. He made available all of the garage space in Bath Road (normally used by firms' cars).

I went to help on the Wednesday after. The water on Langer Road pavements was still to the top of the wellies. There were dead piglets and other rubbish floating down the road.

Nearer the dock you could see the prefabs (which had floated in the flood) at funny angles. I am told that sadly some of those who drowned were unable to get out of their homes because the current of water was too strong. Some people had lost finger nails as they tried to reach air pockets.

One pensioner I visited was fishing at the bottom of Constitution Hill. He told me the sea was coming in so fast that he had to run for his life over the road up the hill.

Sir Clavering Fison allowed the Fison lorries to move the contents of houses. I remember trying to move a piano - it just collapsed as the glue gave way. Carpets were so heavy too but they had to be moved to assist drying out. Houses were damp to the top of the windows. The promenade was ripped up.

The yacht pond extended to cover the whole dug out area beside the Spa Pavilion. I am told there was a dance on that night. People fled for their lives as the water came over the area.

My father was a Works Manager for Fisons. We visited his works at Coprolite Street on the Docks in Ipswich. As the floods receded you could physically see the heaps of potash and kanite decreasing into the Dock. He always said: "If the high tide is between 12 and 3 and the moon was full, plus an east wind, there is always a risk of flooding."

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