The first talk in this series was on Tuesday 23 March 2021:

Who speaks for the flood? Exploring changing expectations in response to flooding and extreme weather in the UK

Please click here to watch a video of the talk.

In this talk, historian Dr Alexander Hall will explore how across the twentieth-century, institutional, community and individual responses to flooding and other extreme weather events have changed. Using a range of different historical records, he will demonstrate how we can build a more in-depth picture of such fleeting, but often devastating disasters. By juxtaposing and incorporating views from national, regional, and scientific records, along with personal accounts, he will show how different historical events can look when viewed from a range of perspectives.

Dr Alexander Hall is a historian of science and an environmental historian who researches the history of science in popular media; exploring how scientists have gained positions of expertise in society, used the media to communicate complex theories to the public, and how non-scientific understandings of the natural environment have interacted with scientific knowledge. He is a Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham working on the project ‘Science and Religion: Exploring the Spectrum’, the co-project lead for the International Research Network for the Study of Science and Belief in Society, President of the International Commission for the History of Meteorology, and the History of Science Section Recorder for the British Science Association.

He has published works on a wide range of subjects from the history of flooding in the UK to the relationship between science and religion as depicted on broadcast media, and is currently working on a book titled, The story of evolution on British television and radio: Transmissions & Transmutations, which is under contract with Palgrave.

Online Resources Mentioned in the Talk

Alexander Hall, “North Sea Flood of 1953 – 60 years on…” YouTube Video,

Extreme Weather in the UK, The TEMPEST Database,

Alexander Hall, “The North Sea Flood of 1953”, Environment and Society Portal,

Newsreel Footage of North Sea Floods, British Paramount Newsreel,

Canvey Island Flood Memories,


BBC, 2002. The Greatest Storm Timewatch Documentary. Catalogue: LSFR683P.

Carlsson-Hyslop, A. E. (2010): An Anthology of Storm Surge Science at Liverpool Tidal Institute 1919-1959: Forecasting, Practices of Calculation and Patronage Doctoral Thesis, University of Manchester

Endfield, G. and Veale, L. (Eds) Cultural Histories: Memories and Extreme Weather (London: Routledge, 2017)

Hall, A. (2011) ‘The Rise of Blame and Recreancy in the United Kingdom: a Cultural, Political and Scientific Autopsy of the North Sea Flood of 1953’. Environment and History 17(3): 379-408.

PA Photos 100 Years of Weather: Twentieth Century in Pictures (Ammonite Press, 2009)

Pollard, M. (1978) North Sea Surge (Lavenham Terence Dalton)

Remes, J. A. (2015) Disaster Citizenship: Survivors, Solidarity, and Power in the Progressive Era. University of Illinois Press.

Rossiter, J. R. (1954) ‘The North Sea Storm Surge of 31 January and 1 February 1953’. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 246: 371-400.