Letter reveals horror of 1953 Southwold floods
18:36 06 February 2013
A dramatic first-hand account of the devastating 1953 floods has been made public by staff at Adnams in Southwold.
The well-preserved letter, pictured, from an unknown sender, had been presented to the brewery some years ago but has now been fully transcribed for the floods anniversary.
A service of remembrance was held at Southwold’s St Edmund’s Church last week to mark the 60th anniversary of the night on Saturday, January 31 and the morning of February 1, 1953 when the storm hit the town.
Sarah Groves, Adnams’ online content manager, said the letter came from a Ferry Road resident staying with family at The Swan Hotel, where he or she had been offered a week’s free accommodation while awaiting relocation to temporary housing.
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.
“There were six buildings on the road beyond us – at about 11pm (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.
“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.”