Essex floods - Canvey Island

  • Theme - Environment
  • Year - 1953
  • Location - Southend-on-sea
  • Filmmaker - Mr Bates


58 people lost their lives at Canvey Island in the 1953 East Coast flood. The flood waters hit at about midnight whilst people slept. Many homes in Canvey Island were wooden chalets and beach huts, designed as temporary, summer occupation. In 1953, due to the post-war housing shortage in London, many were occupied all year round and less able to offer solid protection against a storm and sea surge of such magnitude. Many people were trapped in their homes and swept away.
This film was made by a Mr Bates of the Essex Education Committee and shows the tremendous force of the water, even on the following day, as torrents of sea water engulf homes and the Canvey Island Secondary Modern School. Rescuers knock on doors and help carry people (and pets!) to safety whilst convoys of buses ferry people to dry land.

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