The East Coast Floods 31 January–1 February 1953

  • J. A. Steers
Part of the Geographical Readings book series


The flooding which took place at so many places on the east coast between the Tees and Dover on the night of 31 January 1953 was serious both to life as well as to property, whether houses or land (Fig. 10.1). It is estimated that 206,161 acres1 were definitely flooded (and possibly another 11,732), and that 307 people lost their lives. It is impossible to minimise this disaster, but nevertheless it is right to realise that the results might have been far more serious. We are more than fortunate in that the rivers, particularly those flowing through the fenlands, were not in flood; we were fortunate too in that the surge did not occur at the top of the tide and, what is of still greater significance, did not occur on a high spring tide (Bowden, 1953). The predicted tides for 31 January were 1–3 ft less — according to locality — than can occur at other times of the year. There is little doubt that if the surge had occurred under conditions of a high spring tide and flooded rivers, the whole of the Fens, and other similar places, would have been submerged, mainly by fresh water.


Salt Marsh East Coast Thames Estuary High Spring Tide Marram Grass 
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  1. Bowden, K. F. (1953) ‘The peak of a surge of short duration may occur at any state of the tide’, Weather, LXXXII (Mar).Google Scholar
  2. British Transport Review (1953) XI 338.Google Scholar
  3. Corkan, R. H. (1950) Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc., CCXLII 493; see also Assoc. Océanogr. Phys. Proc. verbaux, no. 5 (1962) 167; Dock and Harbour Authority, XXVIII (1948) 3.Google Scholar
  4. King, C. A. M., and Barnes, F. (1953) Survey (Nottingham University) III (Mar) 29.Google Scholar
  5. Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (1953) Treatment of Land Flooded by Sea Water, advisory leaflet. See also Cropping and Treatment of Land which has been Flooded by Salt Water, supplement to the Lindsey A.E.C. (1953).Google Scholar
  6. Railway Magazine (1953) (May) 301.Google Scholar
  7. Robinson, D. N. (1953) ‘Trampled dunes may well have helped the attack of the sea on parts of the Lincolnshire coast’, Survey (Nottingham University) III (Mar) 37.Google Scholar
  8. Ufford, H. A. Q. V. (1953) ‘The onshore direction of the winds on the coast of Holland averaged 50 to 60 knots for 6 to 9 hours before high water’, Weather (Apr) 116.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1971

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  • J. A. Steers

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