Canvey Island has been subject to wet weather events throughout its history. Without doubt the worst of these took place during 1953. Whilst the extreme weather effected many of the coastal towns in Essex, Canvey Island was amongst the worst hit. 58 people lost their lives to these most extreme of weather conditions. The waters reached ceiling level in many homes and caused devastation to many residents and businesses. As a consequence of the flooding, the height of the sea wall was significantly increased and then in the 1980's the wall itself was replaced by a yet larger one to guard against weather disasters.
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Canvey Island lies in the Thames estuary on an island that has been reclaimed from the water. There is evidence that the land has been inhabited since the Roman invasion of Britain and it has had a varied history which has involved a great deal of flooding. Since as early as the fourteenth century, huge efforts have been made to manage the effects of the sea upon the reclaimed island. In the 17th century, Dutch workers were invited to Canvey Island to install a series of dykes and defenses (now called the Commissioners Dykes). These defenses remain the foundation of the Canvey Island flood defenses and the influence of the Dutch workers is evident in the area in the names of one third of the streets of Canvey which have a Dutch root. During Victorian times Canvey Island became a popular holiday destination and whilst package holidays, introduced in the 1970’s, had a huge effect upon the tourist economy, Canvey Island still draws many people to spend their leisure time at its facilities which include a new synthetic ice rink. Canvey Island is also known for its links to the petrochemical industry and much of the western part of the Island is dominated by industrial buildings.
For a time in the 1970’s, Canvey Island was a highly influential destination for ‘Pub Rock’ performers such as Eddie and the Hotrods and Elvis Costello. It was during this period that Canvey's most famous band, Dr Feelgood, were formed. Canvey Island is also the birthplace of former footballer Frank Saul, who won the double (1960-61) and the FA cup (1967) with Tottenham Hotspur, Olympic decathlete Dean Macey, and Roland and Francis Prout who developed and pioneered the design for the modern catamaran.