Sunday, 8 March 2015


1953 was quite a year with several momentous events and occasions.
It was a very important year for me, from being born we had all lived with my grandparents in their house on Harrington Street, Cleethorpes.  1953 was to see my parents obtain a house of their own and for us to all move away from the house I called home.
In those early years just after WW2 people were still not able to buy their own houses and so they rented a house.  My mam rented a family house on Bramhall Street, Cleethorpes.  As was the custom she rented it for a few weeks prior to moving in to enable her and my grandmother to scrub it clean from top to bottom, do some decorating and generally prepare it for us to move in. 
However, just prior to our moving in there was another, more momentous event, the Great flood of 1953.
Aerial view of the flooding in
the Netherlands.  Image courtesy
of Wikipedia.
It started on the night of Saturday the 31st January 1953 and into Sunday the 1st of February 1953.  A combination of Strong wind, high tide and  low air pressure led to water levels in the North Sea rising 5.6 metres (18.4ft) above normal sea levels and the sea swamped the coasts of eastern England and the Netherlands.  307 people were killed in England but in the Netherlands 1,837 people lost their lives. A ferry sank with all people lost and many fishing trawlers were also lost.  In the Netherlands massive flood defences were built over the following years and similar defences were built all down the English East Coast.  
It was said at the time that it was a freak combination of weather conditions that caused the disaster, "a once in a lifetime occurrence" and it was doubtful it would happen again.
In December of 2013 those same conditions all combined again in the North Sea to produce what has since been called "The tidal surge of 2013".  Thousands of homes were flooded all down the east coast of England, two of the worst places being Kingston Upon Hull and the port of Boston in south Lincolnshire.  As I type this there are still some people waiting to get back into their homes following extensive repair work. 
I took this last week, apart from modern uPVC windows Bramhall Street
has changed very little since our time there.
Back to our new house in Bramhall Street, following all their hard work cleaning it out my mam & grandma had to start all over as the ground floor was flooded and when the waters receded they left a layer of silt, sand and other unmentionable materials.  But, quite a while later we all moved in.  FOR ONE NIGHT ONLY!  The flooding had not only brought sand etc into the house, it had encouraged Black-clocks (large beetles) to take refuge in all the houses and it was infested with them.  My mam hadn't known about them as they only ventured out after dark, as nightfall came on that first night she became away of the problem but it was too late to leave.  We all slept in one bed, mam sat up with a torch.  We though this a great experience but, of course never knew why.  Next morning we "flitted" back to my grandparents house taking with us only solid items that couldn't harbour insects!  I had to leave a soft toy as it was already "home" to the invaders! 
After that false start we were lucky enough to be allocated one of the newly built council houses (known these days as Social housing) on Sandringham Road in Cleethorpes, a large scale  development and part of the post war rebuilding program.  This time there were no problems and we moved into a brand new home, with all mod cons, in April 1953.  It had a coke fired boiler producing hot water, an inside toilet and bathroom and electricity throughout.  She even had a new fangled washing machine, a single tub Hoover with a hand wringer mounted above it to allow the water to drain back into the tub.  It was hired on a daily basis and the hire man would deliver it in the morning and return at teatime to retrieve it. She also had an electric iron that plugged into a  ceiling light fitting! My mam thought she was in heaven!  I wanted to go back to grandmas house!
In January that year I had started school at Elliston Street Infants School.  As we were still living at my grandparents house then it was in that catchment area.  I hated school, I hated it then and continued to hate it right up to the day I left aged 15.  On my first day mam came for me at dinnertime to take me home for lunch and I thought that was it for the day.  Imagine how I felt when she took me back for the afternoon!  I wanted to hear "Listen with Mother" on the BBC light program in the afternoon, as I had done for the previous 5 years!
Elliston Street Infants school. I took this photo last week, as with the houses, it has
hardly changed since I was there.
The house was just across the road from what was to be our house.

A class photo at Elliston Infants.  This is during a music lesson and I'm the cocky
looking boy on the left in the front row with my tambourine!
When the move to our new council house happened I moved to another, closer school,  Bursar Street School.  I didn't like it any more than the previous one but, by this time, I'd resigned myself to having to go to school. 
(Nowadays I would be able to record "Listen with Mother"!!)

An annual class photo at Bursur Street School, I'm sat cross legged in the middle of the front
row.  On the right is Mr. Rudd, the head teacher and on the right is Miss Alport, our teacher.
One of the things about school in the 50's was the large classes due to the post war baby boom.
48 kids in this class!  This was taken in 1955.
This is the following year, 1956 and I've been promoted! I'm now 2nd from the left on the 3rd row from the front!  Mam has put a cross just below on my jumper, (so I would know where I was!)
Again Mr. Rudd is there on the right and on the left is Mr. Cowdroy, my 1st male teacher.
I've already said how I hated school but Mr. Cowdroy made it fun and almost bearable.  The
kids had a nickname for him, he was known as "Rubber neck" due to his long neck.
Life at our new house was, for me, a life changing experience, our garden backed onto open cornfields for as far as the eye could see and the farm was just over the rise in the hill that overlooked our house.  I had come from the middle of a town to the open countryside and all the excitement and interest a young lad could ever want.  I'd become a country boy!
Maybe this new house would be ok after all.

 1953 was indeed a crossroads in my young life and also a big wrench having to leave not only my grandparents house, but also my  friends in that area.
There were one or two other things that took place in 1953.
Queen Elizabeth 11 and her
husband, now Prince Phillip
on Coronation Day. This
image courtesy of Wikipedia.
  Following the death of her father, King George V1 on the 6th of February 1952 Queen Elizabeth 11 was crowned at her coronation on the 2nd of June 1953 to become Queen of United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand The Union of South Africa and Pakistan.
I remember it well as we watched it on TV through the window of a local TV shop, no sound and it poured with rain.
On the same day as the coronation it was announced that Edmund Hillary and the Nepalise Sherpa Tenzing Norgay had successfully climbed to the top of Mount Everest.  It's the highest mountain in the world and the highest
Edmund Hillary, later
to become Sir Edmund
Hillary.  Photo courtesy
of Wikipedia.
point anyone can be while still on terra firmer.  They achieved this amazing feet on the 29th of May 1953, a few days before the coronation.  Why it wasn't  announced until coronation day I don't know, maybe because of poor communications in those days or perhaps the news was delayed to coincide with the Queen's coronation?  Who knows? 
Edmund Hillary was awarded a Knighthood for his achievement.
All I know is I wasn't too bothered about a new Queen but to climb to the top of the world.....well that's something else!!

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