Top of the Tide

Highest recorded water level at Rye

On Wednesday 2 February 1983 a tidal surge due to weather conditions
in the North Sea meant that what should have just been a rather high
tide suddenly grew an extra 4 ft, and at 16.5 ft came over the shingle
bank at the Broomhill end of the village, blocking the road and cutting
off the electricity. Rye fireman were down there pumping out until
well into the morning, and a considerable amount of damage was done
– some of it to holiday homes whose owners could not be immediately
traced; more than a dozen houses were effected. This Wednesday tide
was the highest ever recorded for the area, but the SWA’s sea defences
held everywhere and the only serious damage was at Camber.
The golf course presented a most attractive scene – less attractive
when the water finally receded leaving its debris to be cleared from
the greens. On the other side of the river, there was an inch of water
over the floor of the Rye Harbour Sailing Club, and dinghies normally
parked beside the clubhouse well clear of the river were washed to
the Camber side, one ending up on the old tramway track. A fishing
boat was blown on to the harbour wall, and had to be pumped out when
the wind capsized her back into the falling river.
In fact it was fortunate that the tidal surge did not come two days
earlier, on the Monday when the predicted tide was even higher, The
police and members of the public spent the middle of that day pushing
back into the Tillingham channel boats which might otherwise have
been stranded on the quayside when the tide went down. Tidal surges
are not that uncommon, but they only occasionally coincide with particularly
high tides and otherwise pass unnoticed by the layman. The last spectacular
(and tragic) occasion was 50 years ago when vast sections of the Isle
of Grain were over run by the sea.

Descriptions taken from “The Rye Gazette” dated 9 February 1983.