Sadly not many of the old Canvey folk left now and that had me thinking back to……. 1947 when we lived in Winter Gardens until the floods of ’53 and after that we moved to the Central Wall area.
In those days Canvey was a wonderful place to grow up.. Winter Gardens in 1947 and prior to the flood of ’53 hold the best memories of my life. It was incredibly rural and our rented home in Church Parade was a Wooden Bungalow that had previously been used as a ‘Holiday Home’ for its London owners. The bungalow stood high off the ground ‘proudly’ looking towards the open fields beyond…you could see for miles! Greenery all around, an absolute joy to the eye…until that fateful day in ’53. Prior to the flood ‘Church Parade’ had been our ‘Grass Track Road’ and those wonderful times of childhood when eagerly we youngsters would run the length to meet our friends! ….Or be sent on an errand by our Mum down the track road to collect water from the communal ‘Water pump.’ We went to bed with happy dreams of ‘tomorrow’ in our heads. Little did we know what tomorrow would in fact bring us all as we slept peacefully in our beds?
In the early hours of Feb 1st 1953 we were awoken by the frantic screams of a neighbour as she pounded on our front door calling to us to escape from the surging water. Our dreams of tomorrow soon became ‘The nightmare of today’. It seemed beyond belief as we clambered from our beds looking out the window to see moonlight shining down onto the cold and eerily dark flooded fields. For a few moments we watched as waves of water, glistened in the moonlight and moved by the piercing wind, our grass track road had been swallowed! Mum gathered up as many clothes as we had and instructed us to put on ‘layers’ to protect us from what lie ahead as we venture outside to make an attempt to reach the mainland of Benfleet. Putting on two pairs of socks and my wellie boots, I paused a moment and wondered what would happen to us?
Dad had got a long rope and linked it to us girls and to Mum telling us ‘To hold on tight and DO NOT let go whatever happens’. My sisters and I held hands tightly as Dad opened the door. He led us out of our cosy home and we filed down the steps… Into the blackness and the wind chilled our faces. It felt eerily quiet apart from the muted howl of the wind. All around was icy, bleak and desolate. I shivered as I took steps down onto the watery dark grass. Ice cold water soon flooded my boots and I struggled to prevent them being sucked off my feet. Holding on tightly together we waded into the watery blackness……