The story of the floods in 1953

Photos, time line and some statistics

Jack Allen, who died in January 2012, aged 86, rows across the flood waters in Civic Square.
Thurrock Museum Service
A cyclist struggles with the floods
Shan Creadstunt

Low pressure and high tide raised sea levels at Tilbury by six feet.

On 31st January 1953, a storm surge in the north sea caused extensive flooding in the Netherlands and Eastern England. The surge reached the Thames estuary at around midnight. By 2am, the sea wall at Bill Meroy Creek next to Tilbury Fort had given way and flood waters had inundated Tilbury Town. Similar flooding occurred in West Thurrock causing extensive damage to the industrial areas. Despite the damage, the floods resulted in the death of only one person in Thurrock.

2,500 homes were flooded and 1,300 people were evacuated.

More than 2,500 homes in Tilbury were flooded and 1,300 people in the town and other low lying areas were evacuated to the higher ground. The Chadwell St Mary Primary School was used as a welfare centre. 

On 13th February, Tilbury and other areas were visited by the young Queen Elizabeth II. Jane Brooks, a researcher at the BBC, would like to hear from anyone who remembers the queen visiting Tilbury during the floods of 1953. The BBC is making a film for the Diamond Jubilee and would be interested in talking to you. E-mail her at 

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  • Hi. My Father and his family lived at number 85 Kipling Avenue, there names was Annie and Walter Lock and there children was Edna, William (Bill) and Reginald ( my Father). I have a photo taken in February 1953 that must look out to the back of there house at the sheds. My father passed away 5 years ago but he would have been about 26 when the photo was taken as he was born in 1927.

    By Sandra Harris (18/03/2023)
  • I remember aged 5 walking down the hill from Chadwell with my parents and watched my dad wade of to rescue his parents who were stranded in their upstairs bedroom backing onto the marshes.

    By Chris Foord (28/01/2023)
  • Hi I lived on St Andrews Road Tilbury anyone else live there? The flats were Knicknamed The Dwellings!! My brother worked for a bakery. Opposite the flats were allotments.

    By Wendy Rowlands. Nee Stephens (23/03/2022)
  • I lived on St Andrew’s road tilbury. Was evacuated by huge army wagons. My mother was a cleaner in the offices of the docks. I remember going to the top of our block of flats where the view was water everywhere. The winds were so bad previously I remember standing with my mum against a wall to avoid being blown away. Ended up after evacuation at my grandmothers in Cardiff after couple of days in chelmsford with neighbours relatives.

    By Wendy Rowlands (21/12/2020)
  • Yes that was my dad Jack Allen rowing the boat,
    he hated water and used to get sick on the Tilbury Ferry!
    Not sure he rescued anybody but he tried to help..

    By john allen (15/04/2019)
  • The Guy rowing the boat is Jack Alan, Jack married Joyce Girt. Jack was the Taxi owner of Tilbury Taxi’s that was located on the Tilbury Town Southend side of the station

    By tom (16/11/2016)
  • The cyclist is my grandad Peter Jennings.

    By Kelly Harris-Hart (01/02/2013)

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