Floodlines: England Under Water

Saturday 17 June
Ideas on the Green

Socially engaged writers James Meek and Ken Worpole explore the flood threat to the East of England, past, present and future.


The Great Flood of 1953, the combination of a high spring tide and a storm over the North Sea, causing a surge to sweep across the East Coast and up the Thames Estuary, was the worst natural disaster in Britain of the 20th century, in which 307 people lost their lives in England and over 1,800 people in the Netherlands.


It also produced one of the great works of English social history, The Great Tide by Hilda Grieve, which tells the story of the flood disaster in Essex. But this was not the first, and it will by no means be the last such inundation both to take life and wreck infrastructure.


As the climate crisis worsens, two of our keenest commentators explore the history of, responses to, and possible outcomes from worsening flooding in the east of England and across the country.


“Meek is a writer of fiction as well as a journalist, and it shows: he crafts beautiful and vivid passages.” – Owen Jones, New Statesman


“Worpole is a literary original, a social and architectural historian whose books combine the Orwellian ideal of common decency with understated erudition.” – Jason Cowley, New Statesman