1953 East Coast floods: 'You could not do anything until the tide dropped back – we just had to wait'
As the Grimsby Telegraph prepares to launch an exhibition about the 1953 floods, Richard York talks to one man's memories, and looks at other news items from the time ...
CHILDREN raided the penny slots littered on the beach in the aftermath of the storm.
Jim Horwell, 71, of Aldrich Road, Cleethorpes, lived on Poplar Road in 1953, a few doors away from the train tracks, and remembers walking out of his back door to find the garden full of water.
"That Saturday, the weather had been building up," he said. "The wind had been horrendous and tide was very high.
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"The first I knew of the flood was at about 6.30pm as I was going outside to go to the toilet. Most people still had outhouses in those days, and as I opened the door I could see the back garden had about six inches of water in it.
"I told my dad. We couldn't understand it as it hadn't been raining. We looked out the front and there was a torrent down the street.
"Water was coming through a small 10ft alley in between Orkeys cafe, what is now the Punch Bowl, and the amusement arcades.
"That was the only gap in the buildings on the prom, so it all flowed through there.
"Further along the road soon began to flood too, as the drains couldn't cope."
As Jim and his dad stood in the lane inspecting what was happening, a car pulled alongside them.
"In the car was Herbert Wilkinson," recalled Jim.
"He was a big businessman who owned the Arcadia and many buildings on the beach. I remember him asking my dad if he could get him across the railway lines to the seafront.
"My dad told him he wouldn't be able to see the ash pits.
"They were all steam engines back then and by the tracks they had the deep ash pits for the engineers to clean out the ash from the engine; the pits were about 6ft deep and were filled with water. You could easily fall down one.
"I remember one woman who asked why we couldn't get the fire brigade out to pump the water away.
"Someone said to her 'Where are they going to pump it to?'
"You couldn't do anything until the tide dropped back. We just had to wait."
Jim recalled how, on the following Sunday, the beach became a children's playground as they scavenged among the debris.
"All the penny slots had been thrown out of the amusements by the sea so all the children were clearing out all the money," he said.
And he believes flooding on that scale could happen again.
"There is nothing that can be done to stop it, it will eventually happen again and when it does it will destroy everything like it did before," he added.
"You can't stop the sea."