70th Flood Anniversary 2023

At the library and Town Council Offices

It was back in 2019 that the seeds for this event were first planted. The Essex Record Office were republishing The Great Tide by  Hilda Grieve and approached the archive to see if a small launch could be done on Canvey. Then the pandemic hit.

Slowly through the recovery the idea developed into an event in the library for this year’s anniversary. The library said yes. The Town Council was included as well as the Environment agency, Essex County Council Lead Local Flood Authority, the Transport Museum and Rev Marion Walford. Later we were joined by Coastwatch.

Over many months and meetings the event evolved from one day to two. It was decided to do children’s packs to be sent out to schools, the archive helped with the content. These were provided by the ERO. The children would come to the event on the second day.

The Transport Museum were there

We all had our own part to play. The archive did an exhibit of photos and flood stories. We provided a small exhibit from the Dutch Flood Museum. The ERO brought films, maps plus that book. The Transport museum brought one of their vintage buses to represent the many buses used at the time to evacuate the island. The Environment agency brought details of past and present defences.

Canvey Community Choir

The Canvey Community Choir were asked to provide some music which they did with many songs from the era.

The Town Council, as well as providing the venue for part of the exhibition, sent out all the invites – the official stuff. Also sorting sponsors for refreshments and the plaque. They  worked with BBC Essex Radio and prior to the event they hosted meetings for flood survivors’ interviews with various news outlets that were instigated by the archive.

Christopher Starling, Eddie Evans and myself at the new plaque
From many years of researching and contacting people about the flood these are two I met many years ago. Chris I eventually met nine years ago. Eddie, after corresponding for some time met at the library at the 60th Anniversary then again nine years ago.

On the day we were very pleased that some of the survivors who lost members of their families were able to come. We have corresponded with them for many years and they have been at our previous events. For me it was like greeting long lost friends.

We also had the Great Granddaughter of PC Bill Pilgrim with us. She contacted me some months ago. I had corresponded with her Grandfather Bob Pilgrim when researching Bill’s story. Bob came to the 60th anniversary where I spoke to him.

The day was dry, cold and at times quite blustery but the sun was shining on and off all day.  We were very busy, with new contacts, new stories not just of the flood. So lots more pages will be added to the archive.

Lord Lieutenant of Essex Jennifer Tolhurst arriving for the plaque unveiling

Once all the VIPs including the Lord Lieutenant had arrived the focus turned outside to the plaque.

Rev Marion Walford gives a blessing as the Lord Lieutenant unveils the new plaque

Stibbards donated the new plaque and it was unveiled by the Lord Lieutenant of Essex Jenifer Tolhurst. There was quite a crowd outside to watch the unveiling. The plaque was blessed by Rev Marion.

The new plaque to mark the 70th  Anniversary

Thanks must go to the library and their staff, not forgetting their volunteers who were serving the refreshments. The refreshments were provided by Morrisons.

Canvey Island doing what Canvey Island does best. All pulling together. 

I have tried to include all the organisations and people involved. If I have missed anyone I am very sorry and thank you for your help.

Comments about this page

  • A very well organised commemoration. Thank you to all involved.

    By Eddie Evans (04/02/2023)

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