On 31st January, 1953, considerable areas along the coast of Lincolnshire were flooded. The Mablethorpe, Sutton-on-Sea and Skegness areas were the most seriously affected parts and forty-three people lost their lives.
It was soon after dusk when the first waves crashed through the sea defences in Mablethorpe and Sutton on Sea and within an hour virtually the whole town including the high street lay underwater.
A terrifying time for everyone living there and for the people drafted in to help. A long and cold night lay ahead.
The destruction didn't stop that night however and the morning's high tide combined with the continuing storm saw the flooding get worse.
It eventually reached more than two miles inland. Help was needed urgently to shore up the defences and the military was brought in.
Of course it wasn't just humans that felt the effect of the flood, the storm also took it's toll elsewhere. Around 200,000 acres of farmland was devastated and hundreds of animals died.
Some years ago the accounts by school children who had lived through the floods were discovered, they were put together to form this book that has become a real treasure. The Book is called Black Saturday and was compiled by Sue Leese & Jenifer Baker, it contains 24 accounts of the flood of 1953 as seen through the eyes of young children living in Sutton-on-Sea at the time of the disaster. The original stories have been deposited with the Lincolnshire Library Service and are kept at Mablethorpe. This is a remarkable book and I strongly recommend it.
I include just two of the stories here, to read the rest you will need to seek out a copy of Black Saturday, Printed and published by S.B.K. Books, Lincs. LN122AL Isbn. 1-899881-58-1
Terry Smith Aged 10 years
It happened on Jan 31st 1953. I was at the pictures when it happened. To begin with I went to John Pinders party. After dinner we all went to the picture. It was a terrific gale and we nearly got blown over. At about half past six I knew about the flood. Mr Tipper told us that there were two feet of water in the street. The next thing the water was seeping under the doors. We had to move to the back of the cinema because it was getting deep. Then we had to go to the balcony. The lights went out but we had some gaslamps. We had a drink of grapefruit juice and Paul Guy gave me one and a half dog biscuits. At half past four on Sunday morning we were evacuated to Alford rest centre. On Sunday evening Pat Murray took John Pinder and I to the Corn Exchange where David Jones was. We slept there, and in the morning John had gone to Louth. David and I went to the rest centre for eight o’clock breakfast, and then David found Mr Hillswood, a friend of his. Mr Hillswood said we had better go to Louth because our mothers would probably there. When we got to Louth in a mans car David saw his mother and we went to Monks Dyke school. We went to the pictures in the afternoon free. When we got homes Mrs Jones said we had to go to a private billet in Kediston Rd. The owner of the bungalow was called Mrs Barnard. I slept there one night and then in the morning David was ill with tonsillitis. At about half past eleven I found my mother and on the quarter past one bus we went to Lincoln.
Susan Haddon Aged 11 years
The Flood came on January 31st at half past five. Mummy had just sent Robert to bed because he had a chill on the Kidneys, and he said he wanted to go to bed, so he went to bed. Mummy went to the shops to get some groceries. I wait for her in our shop. When she came in she told us the sea was rushing down the pullover at a terrible rate, we looked outside and saw the sea was racing down the High Street, and then it came trickling through the door. By six the water was nearly up to my knees and daddy was passing boxes up to me and I struggled up the stairs with them. Mummy had put Sally to bed because she had fallen in the water. We didn’t do anything with the furniture mummy said the sea would go down any minute so we didn’t bother. All the time we were taking things off the lower shelves until it came up to my waist and then made me go upstairs because it was too deep for me. The shop door opened and daddy and Brenda ran into the shop to close it. Daddy dropped the candle and he called to to fetch another from the kitchen because the electricity had failed. Mummy went into the kitchen but before she got there the back door fell in and she couldn’t keep on her feet she screamed at daddy to come out of the shop but it was up to his neck and he couldn’t get out but at last he managed it, and they all came up stairs and changed into dry clothes and then I went to bed.
For more details of the floods I recommend you visit the following web pages