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Sea Palling exhibition to mark 70th anniversary of floods

Norfolk County Council, 24 January 2023 00:00

A pop-up exhibition in Sea Palling is set to commemorate the 1953 Floods that rocked the village on their 70th anniversary.

On the 30 and 31 January, exactly 70 years since the North Sea Flood, Sea Palling and Waxham Village Hall will be hosting an exhibition on how their communities were hit by the flood. This free to visit exhibition tells the story of that night and the impact it had on this small, coastal community.

The North Sea Flood, the largest flood to hit England in the 20th Century, caused huge damage throughout Norfolk, including in the village of Sea Palling where seven people lost their lives as a result of the flooding on 31 January 1953.

Cllr Eric Vardy, Norfolk County Council's Cabinet Member for Environment and Waste, said: "The North Sea Flood swept across Norfolk, causing devastation in so many places, from Great Yarmouth to King's Lynn. The scale of the damage can make us lose sight of the impact on individuals, and this exhibition is a chance to take a moment and reflect on the personal stories of a local community, and the human impact that can be lost in the sheer scale of the floods.

"Even 70 years on we are living with the legacy of the 1953 floods, and as we confront the challenges of climate change and coastal erosion this anniversary is a timely reminder of just how important it is to get flood defences and preparation right."

Hosted by Sea Palling and Waxham Parish Council and Norfolk County Council, and supported by the Environment Agency, the exhibition will be open 10am to 5pm on both the 30 and 31 January at:

Sea Palling and Waxham Village Hall, Waxham Road, NR12 0US

Cllr Richard Price, Norfolk County Councillor for South Smallburgh division, including Sea Palling, said: "It is appropriate that we respect those who lost their lives. This exhibition will show what happened then and why, followed by explaining the works that have been done in the 70 years since. However and most importantly it will also pose the challenges that face both the Coast and also the Norfolk Broads over the next 70 years. I appeal to parents and schools to bring children to this event because they are the ones who will have to make difficult decisions and adapt in the years to come. The exhibition will explain the future challenges and hopefully lead to greater engagement from all communities."

All funds raised by donations to the exhibition will go to the Palling Volunteer Rescue Service, also known as the Sea Palling Lifeboat.

The exhibition will be preceded by a Memorial Service on Sunday 29 January, led by the Rt Revd Graham Usher, Bishop of Norwich. The service, which will take place in Sea Palling, commemorates those who lost their lives in the village during the flooding. The seven individuals to be remembered are:

  • Doris Max Fox (42) and her baby Edwin Fox
  • Stephen Willmott (13)
  • Merle Willmott (8)
  • William Hamblin (87)
  • Isabella Hamblin (80)
  • Sarah Edna Ellen Clark (68)

The Rt Revd Graham Usher, Bishop of Norwich, said: "This community knows all too well, the reality of the Bible verse 'many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.' They pulled together 70 years ago in grief and support as the flood waters overwhelmed them with such tragic consequences. The strength of our coastal communities continues through showing love to neighbours, even when there is a fragility about some of their futures."

The North Sea Flood of Saturday 31 January 1953 caused devastation across swathes of England, Scotland, Belgium and the Netherlands, causing 2,551 deaths in total including 100 in Norfolk.

Last modified: 30 January 2024 13:33