Sunday, 10 July 2011


Continuing east along the Thames estuary, past the huge Coryton oil refinery, we come to Canvey Island. From the time of the Roman invasion until the 20th century, Canvey Island was mainly agricultural, then for the 40 years between 1911 and 1951 it rapidly developed into a seaside resort. Then in 1953 disaster struck. On the night of 31 January 1953 a violent storm in the North Sea, combined with a high spring tide, caused massive flooding over large areas of North Sea coastline, not only in England, but also in the Low Countries, with the largest number of casualties in Zeeland. As a result of the storm, Canvey Island was devastated by flooding, leaving 53 dead. The Times Daily reported that “A fleet of small boats made trip after trip into flooded Canvey, called “the island of death”. Families huddled on rooftops awaiting rescue.”

Now the land has been reclaimed, and is protected by a massive sea wall. More recently in happier times, Canvey Island became closely associated with a genre of music in the 1970s called Pub Rock, whose main proponents were Dr Feelgood, known as “Canvey Island’s finest”. The Pub Rock movement, so named because it marked a return to the concept of bands playing in pubs and small clubs instead of huge stadium venues, was meant as a rebellion against the earlier phenomena of progressive rock and glam rock.

Map of the area.

Canvey Seafrontphoto © 2008 James Whatley | more info (via: Wylio)

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