October 1949 Flood

From Historical Hastings

At high tide, about 1 p.m. on Sunday 23rd October 1949, the sea broke over the promenade at Carlisle Parade and torrents of water cascaded down to the Memorial At the same time. flood water resulting from the heavy rain coming through the Priory Stream and other tributaries inundated Station Road, Middle Street, Priory Street and South Terrace.[1]

A large area of the Central Cricket Ground was turned into a lake, water lapped at the doors of the Central Police Station, motor cars were running axle deep, and traffic had to be diverted[1].

Many people were trapped as the water rose three to four feet and had to wade knee deep to escape. In some cases women and girls were carried shoulder high across the flooded streets by fishermen and others wearing sea boots. Water poured into the cellars of the G.I. Hotel, and across the road customers in the Clarence Hotel were marooned when the building became an island[1].

Everywhere in the locality basements and cellars were flooded, in total over a quarter of a year's expected rainfall had fallen in October and winds were recorded as gusting up to sixty miles-per-hour[1].

As the Transport Club in Middle-street was cut off, bus drivers and conductors had to mount a ladder to enter a window of the upstairs restaurant to get their midday meal[1]

Mulberry Harbour

At the height of the gale a 30-ft. section of a former Mulberry harbour, consisting of a series of six ‘steel tanks, was washed ashore on the beach at Warrior Square[1].

An Observer reporter was told that the section was first blown ashore at Bulverhythe. It was shifted by the rough seas on Saturday to near the Bathing Pool[1].

On Sunday morning it was again shifted by the rough seas and carried to Warrior Square after passing through the two sections of the ruined St Leonards Pier, and bumping along the lower promenade by the Sun Lounge, causing some damage[1].

It was feared that if the structure refloated at high tide on Sunday night it might do further damage to the promenade, and possibly batter against the piles of Hastings Pier[1].

Mr. John Burton, the Pier manager, watched, with an Observer reporter, the heavy seas after midnight on Sunday move the section several times, but it finally lodged itself in the fine shale of the beach[1].

On Monday morning workmen arrived and cut holes in the tanks with oxy-acetylene cutters to prevent it from re-floating[1].


References & Notes