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Floods of 1953: Five killed as Southwold encircled

11:02 30 January 2013

Looking at the aftermath of the 1953 floods

Looking at the aftermath of the 1953 floods

Archant

AT Southwold, five people in low-lying Ferry Road lost their lives, writes David Green.

John Winter, 79, a former fisherman and harbourmaster, still lives in the town which – amidst the floods – became an island as the waters surged across marshland.

Those who lost their lives were three elderly ladies and a mother and child who lived in a prefab.

“It seems that the mother – I think her name was Mrs Ballard – put her baby boy in a cradle on a table while she went outside to let some horses through a gate so they could escape. She never came back and she and the child drowned.”

Mr Winter said he was in Southwold Cinema on the fateful night. “A friend of mine, Johnny Stannard, came into the cinema and told us something was up. I lived near the Lord Nelson pub close to the cliff edge in those days and as we went towards the cliff we could see the white lines of surf coming towards us as if they were at the same level.

“The beach huts were being destroyed like matchboxes in a bath. I had a shed in Ferry Road – it was a heap of matchwood when I got there.

“There was a policeman down there and he needed help to rescue a man from a bungalow.

“Spud James, the milkman, called at the property every day and said the path to the bungalow was on higher land and he led the way. But we never found the path. We started out waist deep in water and ended up neck deep!”

The policeman got the occupant of the property out through a kitchen window and another life was saved.

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