Hundreds of people gathered in a Lowestoft church today to remember the devastating 1953 floods that helped bring an end to a close knit community in the town.

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Christ Church held a service that reflected on the Beach Village that for more than 100 years was home to thousands of fisherman, net and sail makers and at one point 13 pubs and its own brewery.

The service, which was attended by about 200 people, also remembered how the village and Christ Church were battered by the flood 60 years ago, which saw more than 400 homes in the Lowestoft area flooded.

The flood also killed nine trawlermen from the town who were out to sea on the Guava.

Speaking at the service was Shirley Hoad who as an 11-year witnessed at first hand how the flood waters ravaged her Beach Village home in the most frightening night of her life as she and her family were trapped.

She said: “It was quite impossible to escape.

“The water was already swirling around the hall.

“It was the longest night I have ever experienced. We were rescued by a lorry.”

Today’s service also saw a talk by local historian John Holmes who showed various slides of the flood’s aftermath, including 40ft tree trunks floating down East Street, people rowing past Christ Church and people receiving aid in the church.

Mr Holmes said that although no one died in Lowestoft that night 40 pigs and various cats and dogs died in the town.

The vicar of Christ Church Matthew Payne said: “It is awful to think what it did to people’s homes and livelihoods in the area.”

At its height about 2,500 people lived in 500 houses in the cramped Beach Village, which began to be demolished in 1955 as part of a council slum clearance.

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