Taken from the EROs blog.
October 2018 seems like a long time ago. Our events team was busy planning our ERO Presents series of monthly talks. As our attention turned to booking in a talk from Janet Walden from the Canvey Community Archive about the 1953 floods, we recalled that there had been some local demand to re-print a book called “The Great Tide” – and wouldn’t it be a good idea to ask Janet what she thought, and whether she could find us anywhere to have a small, understated book launch on Canvey.
The ERO team arranged for one of our library copies to be dismantled, scanned, and for the PDFs to be sent to the printers. We were aiming for the book to be launched in the February of 2020. I’m sure that we don’t need to relate what happened next.
In 2022, with the world re-opened, we started planning the launch of “The Great Tide” for February 2023, to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the events that it describes. Alongside that launch, we aimed to commemorate the event more widely with the communities who were at the heart of it.
But what is so important about this book, “The Great Tide”?
“The Great Tide” was written and researched by Hilda Grieve, then Senior Assistant Archivist at the Essex Record Office. It was commissioned by Essex County Council shortly after the flood, with the intention of documenting the “complete story” of the disaster. Essentially this would be Essex County Council’s official report into the floods, but in the writing, it became so much more.
Published in 1959, “The Great Tide” told the story of the county’s relationship to the sea, the meteorological conditions preceding the flood, the events of 31 January and 1 February, and the subsequent rescue, relief, and restoration efforts in meticulous detail, drawn from six years of careful, patient research. It has since been described by the writer Ken Worpole as “one of the great works of twentieth century English social history”.
Copies of “The Great Tide” will be available to purchase for £20.00 in person (£25.00 posted) from the Essex Record Office from the 6th February. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for details of how to order your copy.
Special offer on the 1st and 2nd at Canvey library £15.00.
More can be read on the EROs blog.