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

31st January 2003
Keith Seeley, Felixstowe
Keith Seeley
Keith Seeley

Keith Seeley was 20 years old and lived in Cornwall Road in Felixstowe.

On a Saturday night he usually went, with a gang of his friends, to the Pier Pavilion.

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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"We were at the dance at the Pier Pavilion. Early on that night the dance was quite normal. We knew the water was very high, but then about half past nine, quarter to ten, a policeman came in and...he said would all RAF personnel from RAF Bawdsey please report to RAF Felixstowe. Which produced a real big cheer from the RAF Felixstowe boys, who said they didnít want them there.

"They said the hamlet was cut off, until then we none of us had took any notice, but then we went to the cafeteria side and the water was flooding in just round the perimeter of the Pier Pavilion.

"About half an hour to an hour later a boy who grew up with us in Trimley, his father was a director of William Browns, his name was Sibbett. Now Sibbett was doing his national service at Felixstowe and he knew us well. He used to smoke a small cheroot like and he was a real toff to us, because we were in the building trade and he was quite different to us but he was a lovely chap.

"He came up to me and he said: 'Iím going to have to go down because theyíre talking about sea water in the camp and Iíve got my car down there. Iím going to have to move it.'

"And that was the last I ever saw of him, he was drowned. It baffles me to this day, because he went down earlier and a lot of the other servicemen stopped until quarter to 12. I still canít figure in my mind, to this day, how he disappeared like that, and he was washed up at Fagborough...

"Well we came out of the Pier Pavilion and the girls, my wife now was there, she was only 15 at the time, but I knew her. Well, when they came out the girls couldnít get across the water that was just round the pier outside the perimeter, so the cars then had these big bumpers and we were helping the girls.

"Some of these cars had handles on the back of them to the boots and the girls were getting on and standing on the bumper because once they got about eight feet across there was no water again and thatís why it fooled you into thinking it was safe. Lots of the girls were cheering.

"Then a gang of us, I can remember one of the boys that were with us that night, John Hedley, who is still in Trimley and still see him about. We decided to have a stroll and we strolled along the prom and after we had got away from the pier, because it was totally quiet then, the sea was coming up to the prom but not bashing it, there were no waves at all.

"It was coming up in a terrific swell and all of a sudden this hut, we leaned against it, we were as bad as the youngsters today really, we maybe helped it a little bit on its way. It came up and it took this hut like a ghost. And the hut just went, in slow motion, the hut just went out and the swell was dropping right down to the stones and there was all the stone noise and then this big swell would come back.

"Well two or three huts went and what surprised usÖThey turned upside down and then the floor went out of them and then you saw chairs floating about and we got a chair. Because we never thought at that time how serious it was going to be the next day.

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