Felixstowe floods remembered

THREE major events are being planned in Felixstowe later this month to mark the 50th anniversary of the resort's biggest peacetime disaster.On the night of January 31-February 1 in 1953 the town endured a night of terror as a North Sea surge smashed the banks of the River Orwell and flooded the southern part of the resort.

THREE major events are being planned in Felixstowe later this month to mark the 50th anniversary of the resort's biggest peacetime disaster.

On the night of January 31-February 1 in 1953 the town endured a night of terror as a North Sea surge smashed the banks of the River Orwell and flooded the southern part of the resort.

Some 39 people – including whole families – died, many drowned in their homes, unable to escape the floodwater, which rose to first floor height.

Over the weekend of January 31 to February 2 the town will remember them with a midnight vigil and a church service, both organised by Felixstowe Town Council, and a reunion for survivors.


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Later in the year, a memorial designed by three artists, will be unveiled in Langer Road as a lasting reminder of that horrific night and a tribute to those who died.

Town clerk Susan Robinson said the vigil would be held in the grounds of Langer Primary School in Langer Road.

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It will start at 11.50pm on January 31 and Felixstowe Salvation Army band will play hymns. There will be a period of silence at midnight and then a survivor of the floods will speak of their memories.

St Edmunds Church, next to the school, will be open for private prayer during the evening.

"Everyone is invited to attend the vigil and we would ask people to wrap up very warmly and to bring a torch," said Mrs Robinson.

On February 1 at 7.30pm at the Marlborough Hotel, Sea Road, there will be a reunion for people caught up in the tragedy, a chance to swap memories, spend an evening catching up with friends.

Organiser Joe Little was one of those rescued. He was just six years old at the time but can still vividly recall clambering into a boat from his first floor bedroom window in Nacton Road.

"I can remember it as clear as anything My mother woke me up and said the water was coming in and we had to go," said Mr Little, of Upperfield Drive.

"The water was right up to the window sill. We had to get out of the window into this rowing boat and they took us to Orford Road where we got out and went to the Cavendish Hotel which was a rescue centre."

On February 2 there will be a service of remembrance at 3pm at St John's Church, Orwell Road, just as there was in 1953. Everyone is invited.

It will be led by Rev Canon David Lowe, Rev Rod Corke will speak, and survivors will talk of their experiences. The names of all those who died will be read and a candle lit in their memory.

Mayor of Felixstowe Malcolm Minns said: "These commemorative events recognise the great importance of the 1953 floods in Felixstowe. They will help us to remember both the flood itself and those who tragically perished on that terrible night."

n Anyone who would like to attend the reunion should contact Joe Little on 01394 278142 before January 20.

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