Floods remembered as anniversary approaches

One of the many scenes of flooding which were seen up and down the east coast of England and on mainland Europe.
One of the many scenes of flooding which were seen up and down the east coast of England and on mainland Europe.
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Survivors of the 1953 floods have relived their terrifying experiences as its 60th anniversary approaches.

On that fateful night nearly 60 years ago, severe gales combined with an unusually high spring tide, caused the sea to surge inland with devastating effects.

In Ingoldmells, where 13 people died, 19-year-old Len Chapman aided the rescue efforts as panic-stricken residents fled from the encroaching waters of the icy North Sea.

Recounting the events to BBC Radio Lincolnshire’s Scott Dalton, Len said: “All of a sudden this horrendous roar, these 40 or 50 foot waves, were crashing on to the bank and the bank just collapsed, just went, just like a pack of cards - and then a six foot wave came.

“I stood there absolutely petrified, I thought we are going to drown, it’s going to chuck us over the bank.”

A wreath laying ceremony, in memory of the village’s 13 residents killed during the floods, will take place tomorrow (Thursday) at St Peter and St Paul’s Church.

Ingoldmells Parish Council chairman Coun John Arnott-Watson, accompanied by Lincolnshire County Council’s ward holder for Ingoldmells Rural Coun Colin Davie, will lay a wreath beside the church plaque at 2.45pm after which there will be a civic reception in the Royal Arthur Centre followed by a church service at 4.30pm.

Further along the coast in Skegness the Bishop of Lincoln will bless the sea defences at Scarbrough Esplanade at around 5.40pm, before leading a procession to St Matthew’s Church where he will conduct a service at 6pm.

LCC’s leader Coun Martin Hill will also attend in remembrance of those who died and the need for continued investment in flood defences along the coast.

He said: “It’s important that we take a few minutes to remember those who tragically lost their lives 60 years ago.

“We’ve learned many lessons since then and coastal defences have been greatly improved.

“We’ve also joined with other organisations to prepare a flood risk management strategy, to ensure that communities are well-prepared to cope if any more flooding incidents to occur. These measures should ensure that residents are much safer and communities and businesses able to recover more quickly.”

Other churches across the county are also expected to light beacons and ring their bells to commemorate those who lost their lives.

The BBC’s interview with Len, now a parish councillor in the village, will be aired in full on Thursday, during its coverage of the memorial events along the coast.