Benfleet has suffered from severe flooding on several occasions as a result of the weather and it's coastal location. By far the worst was during the disastrous floods of 1953 when the people of Benfleet were witnesses to such severe flooding that the whole of Canvey Island was submerged. The 1953 weather was the cause of many deaths in Essex. The severity of the flooding eventually led to a new network of defenses designed to protect the Thameside areas and London for from flooding for "a 1000 years". The Benfleet flood barrier is an integral part of these defenses and whilst we all hope that the weather conditions of 1953 are never repeated, the defenses should help to guard against the scale of death and damage witnessed then.
The town of Benfleet can be traced back to Roman times when it was the site of the land access to Canvey Island. To some degree this is a role that the town still plays. South Benfleet station is the closest rail access to Canvey Island. Historically, Benfleet is significant because it is the site of the battle of Benfleet (893AD) when the Saxon army defeated an army of Viking invaders. St Mary's Church stands on the site where the Saxon Lords built a church in thanksgiving to God for their victory. Benfleet is in the Borough of Castle Point and is the site of the New Benfleet Yacht Club, as well as one of the last true bluebell woods left in Essex. It also houses some excellent pubs.
Benfleet is the last resting place for the Second World War artist, Ashley George Old. He was famous for documenting the plight of the prisoners of war on the Thailand-Burma Railway where he too was a prisoner.