'It makes you realise how horrendous flooding was'
POIGNANT photographs capturing the devastating 1953 floods are bringing back memories of disaster, tragedy and heroism.
Scores of people visited the opening weekend of the Grimsby Telegraph's 60th anniversary exhibition of the East Coast Floods at the Discovery Centre, in Cleethorpes.
There, 100 prints and front pages pay tribute to the victims and survivors of the natural disaster, which shook the lives of thousands up and down the Lincolnshire coast.
Those who remember the floods swapped stories, while others marvelled at the community spirit of the time – and prayed it would never happen to them.
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Brian and Edna Grant, of Scartho, were watching a film at the Ritz Cinema, in Grimsby Road, Cleethorpes, when the floods hit.
Outside, water was gushing down the main road and alert messages telling people to go to the box office flashed up on the big screen.
Edna said: "I was carried to safety by a fireman and then the Army came. The saddest part was seeing all the ruined properties. I hope it never happens again. It is something you never forget.
"The exhibition will help people who were not there appreciate what happened. It was heartbreaking."
There are photographs on show of refugees and evacuees, collapsed sea walls and buildings, capsized boats and broken homes from Grimsby, Cleethorpes, Mablethorpe, Sutton-on-Sea, Alford and Louth.
Geoff Maggs, of Grimsby, was 13 at the time and lived in Elliston Street, Cleethorpes. He helped the hardest hit in Oliver Street clean up.
"My mate lived down there so I went and helped clear his house of sand," he recalled. "The Army brought in great big driers. Everyone mucked in and did their bit."
Amid the disaster, Geoff and his friends found time to hunt for pennies on the beach from the destroyed Arcadia slot machines.
Paul Gough, 62, was a toddler but remembers his father, Dave, a singer at the Winter Gardens, pulling on his waders over his suit to go to work.
He said: "How on earth he expected any audiences to be there during that time I don't know. The image of him doing that still makes me laugh.
"This is an excellent exhibition. It really does look like another era, rather than it being in my lifetime."
Former Environment Agency worker Wendy Baron, 41, of Humberston, said: "Listening to people's stories and seeing these photographs makes you realise how horrendous it was.
"We cannot imagine anything like that happening now.
"Flood defences are something funding should be found for. I hope it never happens again and people don't have to relive what these people went through."
The exhibition is being staged at the Discovery Centre until March 4 during centre opening hours. During this time, the Grimsby Telegraph will be printing more 1953 floods memories.
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