husband, although working at the Gas Board, was an auxiliary coastguard
watch. Bad weather they used to call them in. And he was going on
watch. I didn’t like being alone, but I had three children and I
bathed and put them to bed and I went to bed and I went to sleep
"All of a sudden I was awakened by all this lump, bang, wallop
and I was scared stiff. I thought somebody had broken in...So I
got out of bed quickly and listened, put my dressing gown and slippers
on, went down the stairs, which opened into a sitting room because
it was an old cottage and couldn’t open the door because it seemed
to be pushed back on me.
"Then I put my foot on the wall, on the bend, and pushed the
door and I went down into the water, feet first with water nearly
up to my neck! Oh…I tried to call the children and I couldn’t utter
"I went upstairs and got them up in slippers and dressing gowns.
Got them downstairs to the bottom of the stairs where I stood and
the light went out. What was I going to do? The doors were off,
the furniture was floating and the food and everything. The lights
went out and I hadn’t got any light at all.
"But I got them back up the stairs and there were two people,
a young couple, next door, I thought I’d better knock them, they
might not be awake...So we knocked them and called to them and I
said we’re flooded – 'So are we!' he said.
"We had a dining room chair up there and we got that and Maureen
and I and Margaret pushed that wood in (through the plasterboard
between the two rooms) and made a space so we could all be together.
Mr Haigh had got the glimmer of a torch, that’s all. So then we
were all in my side.
"After some little while we were paddling about in water and
while all this was going on, all the noise, we’re in the pitch dark.
So then we had about eight inches of water, we didn’t know how high
it was going to come.
"In a cupboard I had a big old fashioned chest of drawers.
Maureen stood on the top of that, while we held her, all in the
dark and pushed a hole through the ceiling because we didn’t have
"Well they made a hole about as big as a big biscuit tin that’s
all. And up there there was only spines of wood, so we put the children
up first, I’d got a son of ten and another daughter (Margaret) and
Maureen and they went up.
"And Mrs Haigh went up and I’ll tell you something I’d only
got a blanket pinned round me and then I’d got to go up last but
one. I said: 'Johnny, I can’t get through the hole...my blanket
won't let me.' He said: 'This is no time for modesty Vi, drop the
blanket!' Then he pushed me through, by my bottom, up through that
hole. I got scratched and worn and that at the side but anyway,
we were up there huddled round the chimney…
in the roof, we knocked the slates off to know, to hear, or to find
out something you see. But nothing happened. Johnny Haigh said:
'Vi, somebody has got to keep watch here through the hole to see
how high the water was going to come.'
"So we took it in turn, him and I and then all of a sudden
he said: 'Vi it’s come the time to say a little prayer.' Yes that
did and so it went. And I said: 'Oh dear Johnny.' Well anyway, we
did. But it didn’t come much higher.
"My husband, who was on coastguard duty, he didn’t know anything.
We came down out of the hole onto the bedroom floor at about half
past seven. And then you could see everything, all your food, the
prefabs. Bitter, horrible, sad sight. We didn’t know what was going
to happen. We hadn’t heard anything or seen anybody.
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