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Heacham Church remembers the 1953 floods

heacham flood signal box 392 AHeacham Parish Church will be holding a special service on Sunday January 27 to remember the 1953 floods. There will also be a gathering at the flood memorial itself on the actual day, January 31, and an exhibition of photos and momentoes in the church itself. Tony Rothe reports.

On the morning of February 1 1953, Heacham woke up to a scene of dramatic devastation and began to count the cost of the terror of the night before.  In the previous few days a large weather front had forced its way down from the North Sea, piling tide upon tide until, on the evening of January 31, the sea defences were breached by a huge wall carrying millions of gallons of water which then flooded thousands of acres of land, washing away livestock, homes and sadly taking lives.


Villagers immediately mounted a search and rescue mission, with help from military personnel from RAF Bircham, Swanton Morley and the American Airbase at Sculthorpe. With flood waters covering West Norfolk and in the pitch black armed with only torches, the rescuers did their best to reach those in peril and bring them to safety, whilst fighting the freezing temperatures and high winds. Nine people lost their lives that night, and many people’s lives were changed forever in that short time.
heacham flood 2 AR350Philippa Sewell, Heacham Parish Clerk, said “The power of the sea is ever present in our minds, never more so now as the debate rages on about who will fund the repair of the sea defences, which offer us the protection that we now take for granted.”
St Mary’s Church will be hosting a special village service on Sunday January 27 at 10.00am. Particular emphasis will be on remembering those who lost their lives, paying tribute and giving thanks once again to those helped on that fateful night and in the following months.  An exhibition of photographs and other items will also be on display for viewing after the service and be available for viewing at the church until Saturday February 2
At 11am on Thursday January 31, the actual anniversary of the flood, there will be a re-dedication of the Flood Memorial at North Beach.   Children from Heacham Junior School have created a special wreath to mark the anniversary which will be presented at the church service and laid at the Flood Memorial.   
Villagers and others are encouraged to send in memories – photos, stories, etc – that can go into the exhibition. The pictures shown here are a small sample of those that will be on display.

For more information, or to supply pictures or stories, contact Philippa at  
For more information about events at the Parish Church, visit

Heacham flood 1 AR377


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