Floods of 1953: Hand-written letter from Southwold reveals storm horror

Extracts from a letter written on February 3 1953 from someone in Southwold during the time of the f

Extracts from a letter written on February 3 1953 from someone in Southwold during the time of the floods. - Credit: Archant

A DRAMATIC first-hand account of the devastating 1953 floods has been made public by staff at a Suffolk brewery.

The well-preserved letter from an unknown sender had been presented to Adnams in Southwold some years ago but has now been fully transcribed for the anniversary of the storm surge that swept the coast.

A service of remembrance was held at Southwold’s St Edmunds Church last week to mark 60 years since the storm hit the town on the night of Saturday, January 31 and the morning of February 1, 1953.

Sarah Groves, online content manager for Adnams, explained that the letter came from a Ferry Road resident staying with their family at The Swan Hotel, where they had been offered a week’s free accommodation while they relocated to temporary accommodation.

Although the name of the sender is illegible, the letter, written on Swan Hotel stationery, describes in detail the aftermath of the storm. It reads: “There had been a tremendous gale for 24 hours and there was also a very high spring tide. At about 9.15pm the sea started to pour over the dune into the road and in five minutes’ time it was running like a mill-race right up to the windows of the first floor. Escape was impossible and we could only pray that the house would not collapse.


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“There were six buildings on the road beyond us - at about 11 o’clock I looked out of our drawing-room window and all except a fragment of our own bungalow were gone.

“Five people were drowned. The whole road is a waste of smashed furniture, debris of houses and countless tons of sand and shingle. Our garden is completely swept away - I think it’s probable that the Ferry Road will be declared dangerous and nobody allowed to live there.

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“At about 2.30am, the tide went out and some men came along with planks etc and got us out through a window. The worst night I have ever been through. Bombs were nothing to it.”

If you know anything more about the letter, or who may have sent it, call us on 01728 726535.

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