Recollections of the 1953 Floods

Fish swimming in Feenan Highway

We were living with my mother in Feenan Highway at the time, and were knocked up at 2am by Mr Adams, an elderly neighbour. A few inches of water were already in the house, and little silver fishes were swimming in the street outside!

We took as much furniture, etc. as possible upstairs, but I hastily put my mum’s hats in the downstairs bath, and she was not amused when the tide rose, and water came in through the waste pipe and soaked them!

My daughter, Maureen, was a baby of 14 months, and had to spend all the time in her pram or high-chair – she had learned to walk, but had to start all over again later.

I went to Grays on my pushbike to buy Wellington boots for all the family, and on the way back, was stopped by a policeman at the foot of Chadwell Hill – “You can’t go any further, madam – Tilbury is flooded.” You don’t say!

The flood took a few days to subside, and each time the tide went out, we swept the water out – until the next tide!

Later, Army lorries distributed emergency rations. I remember tins of soup with a core of self-heating material – you just lit it with a match!

We didn’t evacuate, as my mother wanted to stay put, and we decided to keep her company.

I was discussing the floods with my neighbour recently – she had lived in Milton Gardens at the time  – and asked her if she remembered the fish swimming in the streets. She confirmed that she did, and that her neighbour’s cat had been trying to catch them!

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