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Couple revive memories of flood drama

PUBLISHED: 15:26 02 April 2008 | UPDATED: 08:54 13 July 2010

Mother Nature dealt an early blow to the marriage of Ken and Muriel Brown - when a flood surge swept away his new plumbing business.

But the couple battled back and are this week marking their 60th anniversary, with memories of those dramatic early days still vividly in their minds.

Mother Nature dealt an early blow to the marriage of Ken and Muriel Brown - when a flood surge swept away his new plumbing business.

But the couple battled back and are this week marking their 60th anniversary, with memories of those dramatic early days still vividly in their minds.

They had moved to Salthouse after marrying in London in March 1948. For Ken it was the village where he was born. For Londoner Muriel, a typist in the Colonial Office handling letters from cabinet ministers and royalty, it was a bit of a culture shock.

“They used to think I was a bit of a snob, wearing gloves and hats like I did in London - and there were no 'mod cons'. The toilet was a 'bucket and chuck it',” she said.

But there was real drama when the 1953 flood surge struck for Ken's new business was on the coast road.

“I had just set up the business in a garage near the Post Office. I lost my car, my trailer and all my tools,” he recalled. “My landlady who lived next door was drowned. They found my trailer two miles away on Kelling marshes.”

Mr Brown, now 85, joined the ranks of the villagers who turned rescuers - pulling his aunt and uncle to safety as water swept through their home, as well as helping others.

He was lucky to miss the blast as a mine swept inshore by the seas hit the parish hall and exploded, and stood watching the power cables sparking in the wind and water.

“We were really frightened, but we were busy. I came home about 11pm absolutely drenched,” he added.

Muriel was looking after five refugees - a mixture of family and villages - back at their house, as well as their own toddler daughter.

“I was close to giving up, but was persuaded to continue by a villager,” said Mr Brown. The couple relocated to Holt and ran a successful business, whose customers included Sandringham House where they fitted 30 washbasins, until it was sold in 1971.

They moved to Essex where they ran an estate agency after getting “bored”, then returned to Holt 10 years ago.

Drama continued to follow them about when two aircraft collided over the town in the 1960s showering the house with debris.

The couple met at the Lyceum ballroom in London when he was serving in the RAF as a fitter.

Mr Brown has been involved as a Rotarian, Round Tabler and town councillor at Holt. The couple, from Kerridge Court, who have four daughters and six grandchildren, celebrated with a party for 200 people, including guests from America and Ireland.

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