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29 October 2014

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

31st January 2003
Wilfrid George, Aldeburgh, Thorpeness and Southwold
Wilfrid George
Wilfrid George
Wilfrid George was 23. As a newly qualified pharmacist, he worked in his father's shop in Halesworth and also did locum work.

On the Saturday he had been working in Southwold.


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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"When the shop closed...I went home on the bus, a double decker and I went on the top deck and there was a gale blowing. I had noticed it at midday, a terrific gale, and there were tree bits all over the road and I thought I’m not taking a motor bike down to Thorpeness tonight.

"So I got the bicycle out, put my rubber boots on and cycled down to Margaret’s place, where she lived in Thorpeness. The A12 was blocked in two places – I got round one and underneath the other.

"When I got to Thorpeness we set off, as intended down the coast road to Aldeburgh for the dance...

"We were rather being blown off the road there was this terrific northwest gale...we did notice when we looked out to sea, it was bright moonlight and we could see these great waves out to sea, in the moonlight, and I thought it was unusually rough out there.

"We got into the dance and it had hardly started when some people came in concerned because the sea was coming over the sea wall on Aldeburgh front...

"We went out and found we had to wade through sea water to get to the bicycles. We pushed the bicycles down the High Street because they said it was coming in further down the road where it was a bit lower.

"The sea was coming across and there was a great torrent coming through there, through from between the properties and curving off down the street towards Slaughden. So we started to cycle back to Thorpeness to see if they were all right at Thorpeness.

"We had to go through a lot of sea water flowing across the road by the White Lion Hotel...Just before we got to Margaret’s house, because she lived on Thorpeness Beach, on one of the bungalows on the sand dunes behind the beach.

"Just before we got there we had to go through a right torrent of water – I’ve been through floods before and it’s a job to keep going on a bicycle, so I said to Margaret: 'Keep going, keep going, don’t stop.'

"At Thorpeness there’s a big shingle bank and the sand dunes are behind it. There’s a sort of a hollow, or there was, between the shingle and these bungalows on the sand dunes. The sea was crashing over the top of the beach and welling up in the hollow between and in the weak place, which was one property away from Margaret’s, that was shooting through onto the marshes across the road and that was what we had just cycled through.

"The trouble is that as that was shooting through…everything is built on sand…that was gouging a great channel and the sand cliffs at the sides, were just falling into this channel and that was widening out towards the houses.

"Margaret’s next door neighbours – there were some Americans in there at the time - it looked as if it was threatening their home. So we started getting their furniture out. Bright moonlight of course and a howling gale, carting the furniture into a nearby house.

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