Seventy years ago, on the night of 31st January 1953, the local MP, Sir Bernard Braine, was attending the opening of the Canvey War Memorial Hall on the High Street. Those who were there that night recall the wind and the rain buffeting the roof and windows of the new hall as the Archdeacon of Southend unveiled a plaque to all those who lived on Canvey who lost their lives in WW2. After the ceremony had ended and residents returned to their homes, waves breached the old sea wall and the island was flooded with several feet of water.
Now seventy years later, a new plaque was unveiled by the Lord Lieutenant of Essex Jennifer Tolhurst to remember those 58 people from Canvey who lost their lives that night and to help ensure this tragic event in the island’s history is never forgotten by residents. Just As Sir Bernard Braine attended the opening of the Canvey War Memorial Hall in 1953, 70 years on Rebecca Harris attended the unveiling of the new plaque outside the library at the 70th Flood Anniversary Event on Wednesday 1 February 2023.
As well the unveiling of the new plaque, Rebecca was able to visit the exhibition that had been put on for the 70th Anniversary event, which included an exhibition of flood photos and stories from Canvey and Holland from the Canvey Community Archive and a film and interactive exhibition from the Essex Record Office in the library. Canvey Island Transport Museum also had one of their vintage buses with an exhibition showing the local buses role in the flood evacuation.
Rebecca Harris MP commented:
“Before I became an MP I was the Director of a publishing firm that used to publish local history books, including a number about Canvey Island. The one thing that always struck me when going through the first-hand accounts of that night and the weeks that followed, was the immense sense of a community mucking in to help their own and the generosity islanders had for each other. I am pleased that in many ways this spirit continues today. Canvey has an immensely strong community and there are many amazing homegrown organisations on the island dedicated to helping local people in need.
“A massive thank you to Stibbards and Sons for donating the plaque, to the Canvey Community Archive for their fantastic exhibition on the floods and to Canvey Town Council for arranging a lovely ceremony to remember the event.
“May we never forget the tragic events of that night seventy years ago, and may Canvey always keep the sense of community that makes it such a unique and special place.”
To view Essex County Council’s film to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the 1953 floods, please visit: https://www.essex.gov.uk/news/film-commemorates-70th-anniversary-of-1953-floods. You can also view the BBC’s article on the Flood of 1953 at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-essex-64255567.