Canvey survivors of North Sea flood welcome Royal visitor to mark 60th anniversary

Echo: Councillor Ray Howard and his neighbour Ian Norrington Councillor Ray Howard and his neighbour Ian Norrington

TWO Canvey neighbours who were just boys when their streets were engulfed by gushing water during the North Sea flood are “delighted” Princess Anne will be coming to Essex to remember those who lost their lives in the disaster.

Long-serving Castle Point and Essex County councillor Ray Howard and his neighbour Ian Norrington remember the moment they were woken up in the middle of the night to see water gushing down the streets where they lived on Canvey and then being evacuated to safety at what is now King John School, in Benfleet.

As survivors of the flood the pair have welcomed the news that Princess Anne is set to attend the special memorial service at Chelmsford Cathedral on January 31 to mark the 60th anniversary of the disaster that claimed the lives of 95 people in Essex.

HRH the Princess Royal will be at the event to remember residents of Canvey and Jaywick, near Clacton, who died on the night of the flood on January 31 in 1953.

Mr Howard, who was 11 and lived in North Avenue at the time, has dedicated his life to Canvey and the island’s flood defences since 1974.

He has been invited to give a speech on the day to some 650 guests at the cathedral, something which he describes as an “honour”.

He said: “I’m delighted Princess Anne is coming and I’m sure she will listen with great interest and realise what went on 60 years ago.

“I have been to a number of meetings and working behind the scenes on this to make it a memorable occasion.

“I will endeavour to do my best, but I will be nervous.”

Mr Howard said he wants to not only remember those who died in the flood in his speech, but also recognise the efforts of those who helped in the aftermath such as the WRVS and the island’s firefighters.

Mr Norrington, now 72, struggled to fight back tears as he recalled his memories of the “terrible” night.

His bungalow in the Newlands area of Canvey, which was near to where the sea wall was broken down, was almost covered by the flood water.

He, along with his family, including his pregnant mum, stayed alive by huddling up in blankets on a 14ft sailing boat that one of his older brothers made as part of an apprenticeship.

They also had to cling on to the gutter of their bungalow so the high winds could not blow the boat away. They held on for their lives until the early hours of the morning.

Mr Norrington said: “It was a bit scary but exciting, we were all together and dad was in charge. But we were soon brought down to earth because most of our neighbours died that night.”

Mr Norrington lived with his grandparents in Chiswick, London, with the rest of his family after they were evacuated while his dad stayed on Canvey to help with the clear up and repaired their “devastated” bungalow. The family moved back to the island in the summer of 1953 and Mr Norrington still lives there now with his wife Iris in Canvey Road.

Comments (13)

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2:11pm Wed 12 Dec 12

Shrimper1 says...

I wonder if all the 1953 Flood survivors, still around today, will be included in the guest list?
I wonder if all the 1953 Flood survivors, still around today, will be included in the guest list? Shrimper1

3:44pm Wed 12 Dec 12

lennyfy says...

I was 4 at the time and lived in an upstairs flat in West Cresent. I remember looking out from my bedroom window to see the road outside under water, rousing my parents and also going to King John School but apart from that have no other memory.
I still live on the Island and so does my Mother (now 89)
I was 4 at the time and lived in an upstairs flat in West Cresent. I remember looking out from my bedroom window to see the road outside under water, rousing my parents and also going to King John School but apart from that have no other memory. I still live on the Island and so does my Mother (now 89) lennyfy

4:06pm Wed 12 Dec 12

lennyfy says...

Shrimper1 wrote:
I wonder if all the 1953 Flood survivors, still around today, will be included in the guest list?
It would be interesting to know how many people who were there on that night are still resident on the Island
[quote][p][bold]Shrimper1[/bold] wrote: I wonder if all the 1953 Flood survivors, still around today, will be included in the guest list?[/p][/quote]It would be interesting to know how many people who were there on that night are still resident on the Island lennyfy

4:28pm Wed 12 Dec 12

Shrimper1 says...

"lennyfy wrote:It would be interesting to know how many people who were there on that night are still resident on the Island"
My father, who never did learn to swim, and went on to enjoy life 'til the age of 98, declined to move back, or ever visit the Island again. However, I'm sure he was in the minority. As with the flood defences, such as the Thames barrier, natural disasters such as this, are relegated to just memories.
"lennyfy wrote:It would be interesting to know how many people who were there on that night are still resident on the Island" My father, who never did learn to swim, and went on to enjoy life 'til the age of 98, declined to move back, or ever visit the Island again. However, I'm sure he was in the minority. As with the flood defences, such as the Thames barrier, natural disasters such as this, are relegated to just memories. Shrimper1

4:39pm Wed 12 Dec 12

Jose El Mezclador says...

Natural disasters s will always occur even though mankind think themselves able to prevent them: New Orleans and more recently New York are testament to this.

The books I’ve read on the subject tell me that places like Kings Lynn and Sea Palling were getting swamped many hours before Canvey was hit. Didn’t anyone think to get a message down to Canvey to warn them?
Natural disasters s will always occur even though mankind think themselves able to prevent them: New Orleans and more recently New York are testament to this. The books I’ve read on the subject tell me that places like Kings Lynn and Sea Palling were getting swamped many hours before Canvey was hit. Didn’t anyone think to get a message down to Canvey to warn them? Jose El Mezclador

6:28pm Wed 12 Dec 12

soul man says...

i bet old shredded wheat head will be sucking up to anne
i bet old shredded wheat head will be sucking up to anne soul man

6:28pm Wed 12 Dec 12

John T Pharro says...

Shrimper1 wrote:
I wonder if all the 1953 Flood survivors, still around today, will be included in the guest list?
I don't know the answer to that, but as a Governor at Leigh Beck Infant School, your story might well be of interest. If you want to tell your tale, I am in the phone book.
[quote][p][bold]Shrimper1[/bold] wrote: I wonder if all the 1953 Flood survivors, still around today, will be included in the guest list?[/p][/quote]I don't know the answer to that, but as a Governor at Leigh Beck Infant School, your story might well be of interest. If you want to tell your tale, I am in the phone book. John T Pharro

6:40pm Wed 12 Dec 12

Brunning999 says...

That's the first time I have heard mention the floods.
That's the first time I have heard mention the floods. Brunning999

6:41pm Wed 12 Dec 12

John T Pharro says...

Jose El Mezclador wrote:
Natural disasters s will always occur even though mankind think themselves able to prevent them: New Orleans and more recently New York are testament to this.

The books I’ve read on the subject tell me that places like Kings Lynn and Sea Palling were getting swamped many hours before Canvey was hit. Didn’t anyone think to get a message down to Canvey to warn them?
The communications then were not as of now. The Army, which has a garrison on Canvey in 1953 even sent up rockets to try to alert the residents to the danger. Most people didn't have a telephone in 1953 can you imagine what would have happened in New Orleans or New York if communications were as in 1953 in the UK?
[quote][p][bold]Jose El Mezclador[/bold] wrote: Natural disasters s will always occur even though mankind think themselves able to prevent them: New Orleans and more recently New York are testament to this. The books I’ve read on the subject tell me that places like Kings Lynn and Sea Palling were getting swamped many hours before Canvey was hit. Didn’t anyone think to get a message down to Canvey to warn them?[/p][/quote]The communications then were not as of now. The Army, which has a garrison on Canvey in 1953 even sent up rockets to try to alert the residents to the danger. Most people didn't have a telephone in 1953 can you imagine what would have happened in New Orleans or New York if communications were as in 1953 in the UK? John T Pharro

9:50pm Wed 12 Dec 12

bob7 says...

This may be of interest to people who, like me, are not locals. http://www.canveyisl
and.org/category_id_
_19_path__0p2p.aspx
This may be of interest to people who, like me, are not locals. http://www.canveyisl and.org/category_id_ _19_path__0p2p.aspx bob7

5:38pm Thu 20 Dec 12

grippie says...

Many thanks bob for link. I was born in 1951 and went to St.Joseph's Convent school when old enough, travelling from Benfleet via the school bus. I remember seeing all the boats tethered to houses on route, a precaution in case of future floods?
Many thanks bob for link. I was born in 1951 and went to St.Joseph's Convent school when old enough, travelling from Benfleet via the school bus. I remember seeing all the boats tethered to houses on route, a precaution in case of future floods? grippie

4:22pm Fri 28 Dec 12

patternmaker says...

All due respect to Ray Howard but you would think he was the only person affected by the 1953 Canvey floods, how many more times is his
Picture and rhetoric going to appear in the Echo newspaper about his
Limited knowledge at the age of 11,leave it to the people that really suffered and knew all the facts. far better to concentrate his efforts
On the current problem of the recent flooding on the corner of Furtherwick road which has been flooded for the past 2 weeks
All due respect to Ray Howard but you would think he was the only person affected by the 1953 Canvey floods, how many more times is his Picture and rhetoric going to appear in the Echo newspaper about his Limited knowledge at the age of 11,leave it to the people that really suffered and knew all the facts. far better to concentrate his efforts On the current problem of the recent flooding on the corner of Furtherwick road which has been flooded for the past 2 weeks patternmaker

10:44pm Fri 28 Dec 12

patternmaker says...

Once again we have yet another picture of Ray Howard with a flood victim
in todays Echo, I suggest he visits the Canvey Comunity Archive web site to
read the all the stories of the victims who lost their loved ones, including my story, My Memories of Canvey Floods on the 56th Annivesary.
Once again we have yet another picture of Ray Howard with a flood victim in todays Echo, I suggest he visits the Canvey Comunity Archive web site to read the all the stories of the victims who lost their loved ones, including my story, My Memories of Canvey Floods on the 56th Annivesary. patternmaker

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