A small contribution to rescue work.
On the morning of the flood my wife returned from an early morning service at St Peters Thundersley where we lived to say that the Rector had informed the congregation of the flood and put out a request for blankets and clothing to be delivered to the School in Dark Lane, which had been opened as a refuge center.
At the time I was employed by G Prout and Sons, Boat Builders at Small Gains, Canvey. On hearing the news I managed to hitch a lift on one of the buses returning to Canvey which had just bought survivors to the School. On arriving at the factory was met by a work mate Trevor Bloxham.The factory had already been broken into and a number of boats taken for rescue work.
Trevor and I spent the rest of the day in one of the boats rescueing families including I remember a large dog. The factory had about eighteen inches of water and it took a few weeks to dry out and have all electricity machinery checked before we were able to start boat building again.
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We lived in Eastleigh Road, Benfleet at the time of the flood, and my father was one of those helping to rescue Islanders. He had a dinghy with an outboard motor, moored in Benfleet Creek, and went over to Canvey several times in the week following the flood. He told me that the son of our next-door neighbour, one Jim Marrison, had recently bought a new car, and drove over to Canvey in it several times to help with the rescue effort. He drove on the road with water up to the axles of his car, and less than six months later the car was written off – ruined by the salt water.
My school, Benfleet infants/junior school on Benfleet High Road, was used for housing Islanders, and I and my brother and sister got 6 weeks’ holiday as a result. My mother was delighted (not).
Oh dear, I’m afraid my dad was guilty of breaking into Prouts and taking a boat to help rescue those in need. At least that’s what he told me when he recounted that dreadful night! He saw it as a necessity. People needed help and he did what he needed to do.
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