The Floods of 1953 in Norfolk: Remembering the heroes who helped

Floods 1953Firemen from Lancashire helping out in the floods of 1953.

Floods of 1953: Firemen from Lancashire helping out with relief efforts in north Norfolk. Dated February 1953. - Credit: Archant Library

It was one of the worst peacetime disasters in flood-prone East Anglia.

On January 31, 1953 a freak combination of North Sea high tides, atmospheric pressure and ferocious winds created the perfect storm for the worst floods in modern times. In Norfolk alone 100 people drowned that devastating night.

But today we are sharing images from the EDP archive of the heroic deeds and community spirit that arose from the tragedy of the 1953 Floods.

Sandbags were being placed under the railway bridge at Cobholm, Great Yarmouth in 1953

Sandbags were being placed under the railway bridge at Cobholm, Great Yarmouth. Dated 1953 Photograph C5495 Les Gould - Credit: Archant Library

Members of the Women's Volunteer Service cut sandwiches for rescue workers. after the Floods of 1953

Floods of 1953: The wife of Brigadier. General J.D. Stevenson, C.O. of the 49th Air Division U.S.A.F. and members of the Women's Volunteer Service ( W.V.S. ) cut sandwiches for rescue workers. Dated 1953. - Credit: Archant Library

Food rations were handed out during the 1953 Floods. Dated February 8, 1953.

Food rations were handed out during the 1953 Floods. Dated February 8, 1953. - Credit: Archant Library

Prime Minister Winston Churchill declared that 'all the resources of the state' would be made available to cope with the aftermath of the disaster – and this was enthusiastically echoed at a local level.

From near and far people came together to arrange temporary shelter, fill sandbags, rebuild flood defences and provide hot food and drink for the army of volunteers that helped.  

Volunteers at King's Lynn in the aftermath of the devastating 1953 floods

Young and old alike queue for a drink as supplies of fresh water are brought to King's Lynn in the aftermath of the devastating floods. An army of volunteers joined the emergency services to help out. Dated February 1953. - Credit: Archant Library

Women sorting out parcels of clothing during the Floods of 1953 at an unknown location.

Women sorting out parcels of clothing during the Floods of 1953 at an unknown location. - Credit: Archant Library

Men storing blankets after the 1953 Floods at Great Yarmouth. Dated February 1953.

Men storing blankets after the 1953 Floods at Great Yarmouth. Dated February 1953. - Credit: Archant Library

Generous donations of furniture, fuel, clothes, money and offers of accommodation helped those in plight.

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Building sandbag banks at Wells after the 1953 Floods.

Building sandbag banks at Wells after the 1953 Floods. - Credit: Archant Library

 The Royal Canadian Airforce assist with evacuations after the 1953 Floods in Great Yarmouth

Aiding in the evacuation of flooded homes in Great Yarmouth, the Royal Canadian Airforce assist Mrs. P. Brown down a ladder. Mrs Brown went back to her mother-in-law's home ( Mrs A. Brown of 80 Wolseley Road, Southtown ) to pick up clothing and precious belongings. Dated 1953 Photograph C4799 - Credit: Archant Library

Breydon WaterRoyal Canadian Air Force workers at Breydon Water, Great Yarmouth after the floods of 1953

Floods1953: Breydon Water Royal Canadian Air Force (R.C.A.F.) returning after a hard days work filling in the breaches at Breydon Water, Great Yarmouth, during the floods of 1953. Dated February 14, 1953. - Credit: Archant Library

Residents of Cobholm, Great Yarmouth outside F.W. Hayhow Stores during the 1953 Floods

Residents of Cobholm, Great Yarmouth outside F.W. Hayhow Stores during the 1953 floods. Dated February 1953 Photograph C5496 - Credit: Archant Library

Firemen from Lancashire help with flood relief efforts at Wymondham in 1953

Fifty firemen from Lancashire with nine pumps arrived at Morley College near Wymondham to help in any flood damage. A crew can be seen given directions to their billet. Dated 12th February 1953 Photograph C5521 - Credit: Archant Library

Electricians working to restore power in the Blackfriars Road area in Great Yarmouth after the 1953 Floods

Electricians working in the Blackfriars Road area went from house to house in an effort to restore power after the 1953 Floods. They had mobile stores with them. Dated 8th February 1953. - Credit: Archant Library

Men building sandbag banks at Burnham Overy Staithe after the Floods of 1953

Floods 1953: Men building sandbag banks at Burnham Overy Staithe. Dated 1953. - Credit: Archant Library

Repairing the banks on the River Bure, near Great Yarmouth after the Flood of 1953

Repairing the banks on the River Bure, near Great Yarmouth after the damage caused by the 1953 Floods. Dated 10 June 1953. - Credit: Archant Library

Relief efforts at Sea Palling, one of the hardest hit communities during the Floods of 1953.

Relief efforts at Sea Palling, one of the hardest hit communities during the Floods of 1953. - Credit: Archant Library

Army of relief workers and volunteers toil away after the Floods of 1953 at Sea Palling.

Army of relief workers and volunteers toil away after the Floods of 1953 at Sea Palling. - Credit: Archant Library

Sheringham repair work had begun on the promenade and sea wall after the 1953 Floods. Dated February 9, 1953.

Sheringham repair work had begun on the promenade and sea wall after the 1953 Floods. Dated February 9, 1953. - Credit: Archant Library

Filling sandbags off the Coast Road between Cley and Salthouse after the 1953 Floods. Date: 1953.

Filling sandbags off the Coast Road between Cley and Salthouse after the 1953 Floods. Date: 1953. - Credit: Archant Library

A coffee break for English and US servicemen at Salthouse as they helped with recovery after the 1953 Floods.

A coffee break for English and US servicemen at Salthouse as they helped with recovery after the 1953 Floods. - Credit: Archant Library

Lorries and boats sped up rescue work in the Cobholm area evacuation at Great Yarmouth on February 2, 1953.

Lorries and boats sped up rescue work in the Cobholm area evacuation at Great Yarmouth. Dated February 2, 1953. - Credit: Archant Library

Filling one of the gaps at Sea Palling after the 1953 Floods.

Filling one of the gaps at Sea Palling after the 1953 Floods. - Credit: Archant Library

Three days after the 1953 Floods, forces work to fill the gap created by the tidal surge at Sea Palling. 

Three days after the 1953 Floods, forces work to fill the gap created by the tidal surge at Sea Palling. - Credit: Archant Library

Men, women and children sought relief and information in south King's Lynn after the 1953 Floods. Dated February 1953.

Men, women and children sought relief and information in south King's Lynn after the 1953 Floods. Dated February 1953. - Credit: Archant Library

The 1953 Floods at Hunstanton. Dated February 1953.

Volunteers helped from a row boat after the 1953 Floods at Hunstanton. Dated February 1953. - Credit: Archant Library

High Street at Cley during the 1953 Floods.

High Street at Cley during the 1953 Floods. - Credit: Archant Library

Donations held at a clothing store in Salthouse after the Floods of 1953.

Donations held at a clothing store in Salthouse after the Floods of 1953. - Credit: Archant Library