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

31st January 2003
East coast floods 50th anniversary
By Lynne Patrick

Felixstowe caravan park
Felixstowe caravan park (photo: Dorothy Little)

So many stories from that night. Each person has their own memories.

Here are some of the headlines from those stories.



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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"I don't know how long we were up on the roof, but the next thing I remember was a policeman by my side. The children were gone and they were trying to get me off the roof into a boat."
Doris Watkins, Felixstowe

"She said to Mum: 'Don’t get off the bed.' So she held on the picture rail because you couldn’t get your balance on the bed. And she thinks my mother died about half past three."
Ivy Upson, Felixstowe

"We lay on the roof, my parents either side of me to keep me warm."
Richard Lord, Felixstowe

"All of a sudden we heard what sounded like a big explosion. We looked over by the railway line and we could see like a big wave come over the top and that’s when it caught all the prefabs."
Derek Swann, Felixstowe

"I got the children into the front bedroom and I thought well we’ll be together. If anything happens they will find us all together."
Dorothy Little, Felixstowe

"Still in my mind is getting out of the window into the rowing boat...It was quite an expedition."
Joe Little, Felixstowe

"Then he pushed me through, by my bottom, up through that hole."
Violet Sparrow, Felixstowe

"We sat there and we were saying prayers because you could see the water. The water was coming up and it was getting higher and higher."
Maureen Rooke (nee Sparrow), Felixstowe

"I realised that lots of people had been drowned... my daughter was six at the time and she lost ten of her friends."
Ione Waite, Felixstowe

"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."
Graham Hitchcock, Felixstowe

"My grandfather had tried to save her by holding her up as she was unable to help herself, but in the freezing water conditions, he eventually was forced to let her go."
Chrstine Blazeby (nee Stiff), Felixstowe

"My Mother's hair virtually turned white overnight, we had to move from that area within the year, Mother was bordering on a nervous breakdown. It was never the same.
Janet Woods, Felixstowe

"Terribly sad. Desolation really...mud over everything, water, a lot of the houses were down. A terrible mess."
Dorothy Kellogg, British Red Cross

"We got to this hill and got out of the boat and had a look to see what had happened and...we found 103 dead sheep and I had got 13 left alive."
Bernard Adams, Felixstowe

" was absolutely bitter. How they survived laying on a roof in their nightwear is quite amazing because some of them were there probably seven hours I should think."
John Minns, Felixstowe

"It was such a terrible night, I don’t think I’ve ever known it to be so cold. Probably part of that was fear and the unknown."
Barbara Minns, Felixstowe

"It was a question of getting people off the roof tops, trying to save as many people as you could."
Eric Shields, East Suffolk Police

"We saw this brave horse go down there…and they managed to open the gate and they brought the horses back."
Mary Jolly, Fleet House School, Felixstowe

"I’ve got my car down there. I’m going to have to move it - And that was the last I ever saw of him, he was drowned."
Keith Seeley, Felixstowe

"Where we had to pump out there was the sea one side and water the other side...we might just as well have tried to pump the sea dry."
Andy Devine, Fireman, Ipswich & Southwold

"They put in 10,000 sandbags in there and after the next high tide there wasn’t a single sign of one of the sandbags at all."
Ryan Coe, RAF Bawdsey

"It required two rowers in each boat because of the strong winds to make headway along to the Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club."
Bernard Riddlestone, Duty Inspector, Lowestoft Police Station

"We got as far as Bourne Bridge and saw that meadow just one great expanse of water."
Joyce Banham, Ipswich

"How on earth my mother got up there…God must have been about that night, honestly."
Dorothy Ablitt, Ipswich

"I had to lower my daughter, she was only three at the time, we lowered her down in a blanket into the boat."
Ben Bennett, Felixstowe

"As I walked down I could see all the bodies were laid out on the pavement."
Charlie Loomes, Felixstowe

"When we got to the sty it was a mass of red, because a lot of them had just bled to death."
Bert Ryder, Felixstowe

"We did later find a great chunk (of road) several yards across, 100 yards away, out on the marshes, with a white line in the middle of it."
Wilfrid George, Aldeburgh and Southwold

"It was so cold it was unbelievable. It was the only time in the army we ever had a rum ration."
Eric Smith, Woodbridge and Southwold

"I remember going down Herring Fishery Score and when you hit the bottom it was flooded."
Brian Soloman, Oulton Broad & Lowestoft

"They were on the engine at the time the floods were coming over the railway. And they managed to get under the iron bridge and climb up from the engine and onto the iron bridge."
Ivan Meadows, Lowestoft

"There was mud, slime and on the curtains downstairs we even had small fish hanging."
Jane Jarvis, Lowestoft

"I can remember the camaraderie of it all, because a lot of my aunts and our relatives are Beach people and they all ganged together and helped each other out."
Colin Dixon, Lowestoft and Beach Village

"It was horrible. There were lots of mice and rats, dead, and we just had to scream and get over it and get on with it."
Jacqueline Murkett, Lowestoft and Beach Village

"I’ve got vivid memories of them sitting on the roof screaming for help and setting fire to newspaper to draw attention."
George Bumstead, Southwold

"She stood up all night in the prefab, in the water, on the dressing table holding the little boy. He lived but Margaret died of exposure during the night."
Bryan Lake, Felixstowe

"Houses had been washed away, bungalows full of mud, sand and slime - a real mess."
Ray Smith, Southwold

"Grandad, having suffered a stroke, slept downstairs and was drowned."
Gwen Howell, Felixstowe

"Sadly, both had drowned in the appalling onslaught of the water. The terror of the ordeal they must have suffered is quite unimaginable."
David Belton, Felixstowe

"Our job was to strip the wet wallpaper from the walls, the flood water had been six feet was a very smelly job, and hard work, but it was essential."
Beryl Savidge, Felixstowe

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