GALLERY: Communities remember 70th anniversary of East Coast Floods.
Lenard Pounds, Florence Pounds, William Cyril Chambers, Margaret Chambers, Deborah Chambers, John Chambers, Denys Chambers, Mary Cox, John William Lidgate, Ellen Lidgate, Mr and Mrs Smith, the Rev and Mrs Lait, Jane Ellen Alexandra, Hugh Richardson, Rose Ada Guy and Douglas John Hill had become trapped while trying to flee the resort.
The Rev Richard Holden read out their names to the congregation at St Peter and St Paul’s Church – including the Lord Lt of Lincolnshire Mr Toby Dennis and the leader of Lincolnshire County Council, Coun Martin Hill who gave readings.
Candles were also lit in memory of those who had died. “In an ordinary day like today, the sea came over and rushed into the village,” said the Rev Holden.
"Those who died were trapped in a horrifying moment. It became an extraordinary day.
"Our readings speak of faith and that is why, today, we ask Jesus to keep us safe and remember those who died.”
Organist George Paul was just eight years old and living in Sea Lane when the floods came. “My father had the grocers down the lane and I remember him coming home and telling us the sea had breached the bank and we needed to get as much as possible upstairs and he would go back to the shop and do the same.
"My mother and sister and I rolled up carpets and took as much as we could upstairs. We were lucky at the shop and at home as they were both about three steps higher than other properties and so we were not too badly affected.
"It was the following day that it really hit us when we saw the devastation. I will never forget hearing the squeals of pigs in the sheds down the lane during the night and the next day carcasses were laid along the road. That sight is something that has stayed with me.”
Forty-three people lost their lives in the floods as the water surged as far as two miles inland. The most seriously affected areas were Mablethorpe, Sutton on Sea and Skegness and the villages inbetween.
Reports from 1953 say that a combination of high spring tides and severe winds caused a storm surge. Soon after dusk, the sea overflowed into the towns and villages along the coast, breaching the defences, and leaving them underwater.
With the addition of the morning’s high tide and the continued storm, the flooding then only got worse.
Following the flood, sand and mud needed to be pumped back to sea so that people could return to their homes, and the military were brought in to shore up defences before the next high tide in February.
The service took place ahead of the opening of an exhibition at the North Sea Observatory in Chapel Point marking the 70th anniversary.
The exhibition – which features a collection of photographs, newspaper articles and even local children’s schoolwork from the time – was hosted by Lincolnshire |County Council and opened by Mr Dennis.
Coun Colin Davie, executive councillor for environment, and local councillor for Ingoldmells Rural on Lincolnshire County Council, said: “Lincolnshire has battled with floods throughout history; a challenge that continues today as we take steps to better protect our communities along the coast.
“This anniversary is a chance to not only look back and remember those who lost their lives – and the great challenges our coastal communities overcame at that time – but to take stock of how well prepared we are today against the threat of coastal flooding.
“What this exhibition shows us is how the communities affected by this terrible flooding came together and ultimately recovered. Amongst the humbling images of flooded streets and destruction you’ll also find moments of human kindness, resilience, and even smiles in the face of adversity.”
Amongst the guests at the exhibition was Brenda Willson, 91, who was living at Chapel Point with her late husband John and one year old baby Bryan when the police knocked on her door to evacuate them.
"What I remember most from that day was the dreadful wind which brought splashes of sea into the car park in the afternoon.
"We didn’t think anything of it at the time until the police came.
"We went to my husband’s parents in Helsey.
"The property was rented so afterwards we just cleaned up and left and now live in Alford.
"Coming to the exhibition has been quite emotional in many ways as I met my husband here. I am so pleased to be here.”
Also pleased to attend the exhibition was Coun Alison Austin, chairman of Lincolnshire County Council, who couldn’t resist the opportunity to say a few words to the gathering.
"I wasn’t supposed to say anything but I was nine at the time and living in Kirton.
"We were safely at home but I can remember the ferocious winds that night.
"It wasn’t until later we found out what had happened. I think it is right we should come together to remember the floods.
"I can’t imagine how the families of people who lost their lives would have felt.”
The exhibition continues until the end of February.
For the full story of the memorial and exhibition and pictures see next week’s Skegness Standard newspaper.