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24 September 2014

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

31st January 2003
Ivan Meadows, Lowestoft
Ivan Meadows
Ivan Meadows
Ivan Meadows was 29 at the time of the floods. He was living in Clement Street, Lowestoft.

He was a fireman on the railways.


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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"That night at about half past seven I walked down to the centre of the town, opposite the Odeon for my mother-in-law to catch the bus, because we knew the weather was turning bad. I saw her catch the bus and she went on her way to South Lowestoft and I went home again.

"I should have been on duty at 5 o’clock the next morning the Sunday morning at Lowestoft Loco as a fireman. And I got up around quarter past four and I proceeded to the top of Denmark Road, where the roundabout is now, and found all this water there.

"I thought there was no way I was going to get across all that water so I went home and got my rubber boots and made my way up Eastern Way, which was a bit of a sloping front of the Eastern Coach Works...

"I just managed to walk across the railway track without getting my feet wet at all. When I got inside the Loco, there was the Foreman there, he’d been standing on the table all night because that was the only place he could get out of the way...

"A little while later I piggybacked him across the track, because he’d been there all night...When we looked round there was debris and sleepers and what-have-you all the way round and we had a big concrete cess just in the entrance to the loco, near the turntable and all the big boards had come off that. So if anybody had walked that way it would have been very dangerous indeed. We couldn’t do nothing at work, so I went home.

"Later that day we walked down to the sea wall outside the Royal Hotel and the waves were still lashing over the top of the wall and everywhere. We went round to the Hamilton Dock and the boats were still high out of the water with the tide still up.

"Then we proceeded to the beach area and round there the devastation was really terrible, what with the mud and bits of debris still floating about.

"There was one of our drivers, George Brown and Jack Reynolds was his fireman, and 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 to get home. So they left the engine underneath. I mean naturally the water put all the fire and that out, so there was nowhere they were going to go. And also that breached the track further up near the sleeper depot at the time.

"We did go to Yarmouth – all the water was still in the platform with animals all floating around – which was terrible really. There was no way we could get access to do anything, only a bit a clearing up later as the water receded and I think the services were really disrupted for a couple or three days at least before we could get anything on the move again.

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