Rebuilding the Seawall in 1953

Sunken Marsh by Peter Lee

During March to September 1953, Peter Lee worked as a junior site engineer with John Howard & Co, rebuilding the sea walls around the eastern two-thirds of Canvey Island. As part of his employment he took a series of photos of the work in progress, covering both the emergency closure of a breach in Sunken Marsh, strengthening of the hard defences along the exposed frontage, building up the earth walls behind the island, and the damming and reclamation of Smallgains Creek. Recently Peter being long since retired has been clearing out cupboards and drawers and had kindly sent in these excellent photos.

Below are a set of photos showing the emergency closure of the collapsed sea wall at Sunken Marsh.

Emergency Closure of Collapsed Sea Wall

Emergency Closure of Collapsed Sea Wall

Emergency Closure of Collapsed Sea Wall

Emergency Closure of Collapsed Sea Wall

Please add any details as to exact locations or anyone you may recognise in the pictures

Comments about this page

  • Surprisingly little seems to have been mentioned about what was the emergency reconstruction of the seawall around Canvey [except for the photo’s on this page].

    For quite some months after the 1953 flood the sound of pile drivers knocking in sheet steel interlocking piles could be heard, these were topped with a concrete cap. As I remember the expected life of this construction was no more than 30 years so it’s replacement in the 1970’s & 1980’s was about on time with most,but not all, the original piles being pulled out.

    One place where the original height and piles of the “emergency” seawall can still be seen is at the bottom of Brandenberg Road where the later construction,[1970’s] is about 30 inches higher, and a few feet in front of it [facing the marshes]providing a wide path between the two.

    After visiting some other coastal areas in Eastern England Canvey’s sea defences seem to be among the best.

    By Ian Newman (02/08/2010)
  • Hi Ian I have many more pictures of the sea wall rebuild to publish when I get an opportunity. I wondered why that bit of the sea wall was like that Dave

    By David Bullock (04/08/2010)
  • Hi David, have you any pictures of the damming of Small Gains Creek. I used to spend many happy, wonderfull times at the creek, when all the houseboats were there, and the tide came in where people play football now in front of Kings .

    By Brenda (29/08/2010)
  • Have you looked at our section caled ‘The History of Canvey’s Sea Defences’. Lots of pictures from the 30s to the 70/80’s

    By Janet Penn (29/08/2010)
  • Brenda – Yes I have – It’s a place close to my heart too – I’ll publish them as I get time

    By David Bullock (30/08/2010)
  • Thank you David, look forward to seeing them. Brenda

    By Brenda (30/08/2010)

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