Building The Canvey Sea Defence

The Illustrated London News January 30th 1954

Insuring that the disaster of a year ago shall not occur again.

Almost exactly a year ago today (30th January) and on the night of January 31st/February 1st 1953, the great storm burst through the sea defences of the East coast and nowhere more destructively than on Canvey Island in the Thames estuary of the Essex coast. No fewer than sixty-eight men, women and children perished in the floods, the island was for a time evacuated, and very extensive damage to property was done. Since then the work to rehabilitation has gone forward ????gly.

As reported in the issue of September 19, 1953, the resort had a record Bank Holiday. The population is back at its original numbers with only a few houses empty. It is reported that the L.C.C. are to be invited to create a housing estate of 2000 houses, and as shown in our photographs the work at rebuilding the sea defences is nearing completion. The estimated cost of this operation, for which the Essex River Board is responsible, is in the region of £500,000. Among the materials used are 2000 tons of steel sheet piling, 30,000 blocks of concrete, and 550,000 cubic tons of clay.

?? and reinforcing the sea defences of Canvey Island. Workmen aligning concrete blocks on a settled clay base.

After the concrete blocks have been laid on the settled clay base they are sealed with bitumen.

A general view of the steel wall ? ? ? the sea wall along the Esplanade at Canvey Island. At intervals can be seen gaps for access to the beach.

Part of the new sea wall on about five miles of the Canvey Island sea frontage. The steel piles are capped with a precast concrete coping.

Work in progress on the new sea wall near Small Gains creek, Canvey Island. Two large dams have been built in danger spots near creeks.

A close-up of one of the access gaps in the new sea wall. These normally will be open, and closed only in times of emergency.

Comments about this page

  • Looking at these pictures reminds me of the thump, thump night and day of the pile driver, it went on for months.

    By margaret (30/01/2018)
  • We had a small chalet – actually two breezeblock sheds with tin roofs – in Miltsin Avenue, near where one of the first breaches occurred. Took our old dog for a walk to watch the men working on the new wall. I went down to watch one of the big earth moving cranes. The driver didn’t spot me nearby. If my father hadn’t have dived to knock me flat the bucket of earth would have hit me.
    I also remember a pontoon bridge over the creek, roughly where the barrier Across Tewkes Creek now is. Dad, being a powerful swimmer and not worried by the swaying and bobbing, took me over it. I can remember the terror of nearly falling off and having to crawl over to the far side. We walked back ! That must have been about the time these photographs were taken.

    By Dave Housden (13/04/2021)

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