Workmen rebuilding flood defences with sandbags at Coryton Oil Refinery, Coryton, Thurrock
The North Sea Flood of 1953 struck on the night of Saturday 31st January through to the morning of Sunday 1st February. A storm surge combined with high spring tides to cause severe flooding at points all along Britain's east coast. The storm breached the river wall protecting the Coryton Oil Refinery construction site on the Thames Estuary in 14 places. 4,000 workers formed human chains to move sandbags into position and managed to seal 11 of the worst breaches before the next high tide. Much of the sea wall was inaccessible to machinery and the repairs had to be made by hand.