Wed on the Day of the Flood.

Jeannette and Frank Cardnell memories

Jeannette and Frank Cardnell told the story of their wedding day on the day of the Wickford flood, 6th September 1958, plus other memories.

“I was originally from Harold Wood, moving to Wickford when I was 3, in 1941.

I attended Market Road School, and at the time there was a junior school on the left and a secondary school on the right hand side of the road, that is until Beauchamps School was built.

The day before our wedding was a very sultry day, and the storm clouds built up and there was sheet lightning all around, then by 7 in the evening it ended with a tremendous storm and it rained solidly for over 2 hours. It was badly flooded under the railway bridge at Shotgate and nobody could get through, it wasn’t just Wickford that flooded but all the surrounding towns and villages as far as Burnham, where Frank lived.

My aunt came to see us that evening but couldn’t get home because of the floods and she slept on the sofa. She had to come to the wedding the next day in the same clothes that she had worn the night before.

The guests that came by train had to walk up from the station to the level crossing at Wick Lane. Luckily St Catherine’s Church being on a hill wasn’t flooded. Dad went down to meet the train that Frank was on and they both carried the flowers up from the florist.

The Rector was asked to delay the ceremony by 30 minutes to allow guests to get to the church.

Those who came by car had to come via Rayleigh to avoid the floods.

The only ones who couldn’t make it was my sister’s parents in law who lived in Wick Drive and they had 5 feet of water in their house.

The organist, who came from Runwell, managed to get to the church as Carter and Ward had an ex army duck which they used to ferry people across the Runwell Road. We didn’t have a photographer, as he couldn’t get through so the only pictures we have are from a guest who had a 35mm camera, and other snaps that guests took.

The hall we had booked for the reception had been taken over by people who had been flooded out in Rawreth. Luckily it was a lovely day and the caterers came to the house and we had to the reception in the house and the garden.  We had to go to Rayleigh station to get the train in the evening to go on honeymoon.

When we opened the Sunday papers the next day in Devon there were pictures of the floods in Wickford. Unfortunately I didn’t keep the papers.

10 years later there was another flood, and a milk float was stuck under the railway bridge in Shotgate. The empty milk bottles were floating down the street and there was a submerged car which the police sent frogmen down to see if there was anyone in it, but there wasn’t.

When I was a child the carnival started in Shotgate and used to be on the first Saturday in August, which then was a Bank Holiday weekend. There was a gymkhana on the Saturday and a big fair on the Bank Holiday Monday in the farmer’s field, which later was a golf course and now is the Memorial Park.

During the war we lived at the bottom of Highcliffe Road, which is now Brunwins Close, which is down by the park. An unexploded bomb came down one night in which was then a farmers field, in the morning I went to have a look it, all I could see was just a mound which I didn’t like the look of, but my sisters clambered all over it, when dad came home on a 48 hour pass from the air force he took one look at it and said it was a unexploded bomb and called the bomb disposal people and they exploded it.

After the war my parents’ moved to what was known as the Gerry house because a German built it before the First World War, but before it was finished the war broke out and he was taken away to a camp as an enemy alien so he never lived in it. The Government took it over as alien property, then after the war it was sold. It was a white stone house with a turreted balcony, near the railway bridge at Shotgate. The land on which it stood is now a small housing estate off Hawkins Close, so named after my family.

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