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Sinking of the Titanic Illustration

6 premonitions of disasters that came true

Have gifted individuals throughout history really received visions of future events? Even hardened sceptics may be swayed by some of the true stories we delve into below.

Image: Sinking of the Titanic Illustration (1912) by Willy Stower |

1. The Aberfan disaster

On the morning of 21st October 1966, the Welsh mining village of Aberfan suffered one of Britain’s worst peacetime catastrophes. Sodden with heavy rain, a huge heap of colliery waste suddenly slid down a mountain slope, obliterating everything in its path. A local junior school was utterly engulfed by this roaring black avalanche, with 116 children killed.

It tragically transpired that many residents had already raised concerns about the safety risks of waste being piled high over the schools. But did some locals literally ‘see’ the disaster coming?

According to one bereaved family, on the day before the avalanche their eight-year-old son, Paul Davies, drew a group of figures digging into a hillside with the words ‘The End’ written above them. Meanwhile, in the run-up to the disaster, a 10-year-old girl named Eryl Mai Jones reportedly told her mother she wasn’t afraid to die, and that she’d dreamt ‘something black’ had come down on her school. Like Paul, she died that terrible day.

These stories were collected by psychiatrist and researcher John Barker, who was inspired to create an organisation dedicated to tracking such visions, known as the Premonitions Bureau.

2. The sinking of the Titanic

Did an obscure writer named Morgan Robertson have a vision of the Titanic disaster? He denied that anything supernatural had taken place, but the fact remains that in 1898 – more than 14 years before the Titanic sank – he published a book called Futility. The focus of the book was an ocean liner which is said to be unsinkable, doesn’t have enough lifeboats, and goes down into the cold waters of the North Atlantic after colliding with an iceberg. The name of this ship? The Titan.

There are also accounts of passengers – and almost-passengers – on the actual Titanic who felt inexplicably fearful about the journey. One was Alex MacKenzie, whose story was told by his grandson, Iain Henderson, in 2012, a century after the disaster.

As Henderson told the press, MacKenzie had been walking along the gangway to the ship at Southampton docks when he distinctly heard a voice telling him not to get on board.

The spectral warning was repeated, and MacKenzie was so spooked that he turned around and headed straight back to his native Scotland – much to the incredulity of his parents who’d splurged a lot of money to get him a sought-after ticket. They were shocked for a very different reason when news of the tragedy broke days later.

3. 9/11

Another man who seems to have sensed the coming of a world-shaking tragedy was Eamon McEneaney. A financial services professional whose office was at New York’s World Trade Center, he suffered a sudden bout of vertigo while he was leaving for work on the morning of 11th September 2001.

This strange moment came after a long period of foreboding for Eamon, who had predicted he wouldn’t survive the year 2001 and had grown increasingly anxious about a terrorist strike on the World Trade Center. But, despite the vertigo, and his wife saying he should stay home, Eamon decided to carry on his day as normal. He died in the attacks.

4. World War I

Carl Jung is remembered as one of the most influential psychiatrists of the 20th century, second only to Sigmund Freud in fame. But as well as being able to probe the recesses of his patients’ minds, did he also have the power to see into the future?

In 1913, a year before the Great War turned swathes of Europe into bloody landscapes of death and decay, Jung had a dream in which he saw ‘a monstrous flood covering all the northern and low-lying lands between the North Sea and the Alps’ which he knew symbolised ‘a frightful catastrophe’. The terrible vista revealed ‘the floating rubble of civilisation, and the drowned bodies of uncounted thousands. Then the whole sea turned to blood.’

Two weeks later, he had a similarly horrific dream, and this time heard a voice silencing his inner sceptic: ‘Look at it well, it is wholly real and it will be so. You cannot doubt it.’

5. JFK assassination

Did a celebrity psychic foresee the assassination of President John F. Kennedy? There’s no denying that in 1956 – seven years before those fatal shots rang out in Dallas, Texas – a magazine published a prediction by clairvoyant Jeane Dixon that the 1960 presidential election would be won by a Democrat (correct) and that this man would be ‘assassinated or die in office (correct).

Another prediction which should be mentioned was made by none other than Kennedy himself. On 5th June 1961, the president scribbled a cryptic and ominous note which was preserved by his secretary: ‘I know that there is a god and I see a storm coming. If he has a place for me, I am ready.’

6. The Lincoln assassination

Kennedy may not have been the only US president who foresaw his own murder. Just days before he was killed while enjoying a play at a Washington theatre in 1865, Abraham Lincoln told his bodyguard Ward Hill Lamon of a striking dream. In it, the president had walked into a room at the White House to see a dead body lying there, surrounded by soldiers and mourners.

Lincoln asked an onlooker who had died. ‘The president,’ the onlooker replied. ‘He was killed by an assassin.’

Although some historians believe Lamon embellished or made up the story, it remains one of the most haunting historical premonitions ever recorded.