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Amazing quake coincidence

PUBLISHED: 12:56 05 March 2008 | UPDATED: 12:43 20 May 2010

QUITE often a chance remark made by someone during the day enters my subconscious and becomes part of my dream at night.

And that is what I thought had happened when I woke at 1am on Wednesday last week to find the house vibrating around me, accompanied by a strange, high-pitched whine.

QUITE often a chance remark made by someone during the day enters my subconscious and becomes part of my dream at night.

And that is what I thought had happened when I woke at 1am on Wednesday last week to find the house vibrating around me, accompanied by a strange, high-pitched whine.

“It's an earthquake,” I thought.

“But it's not really - I'm dreaming about one because at the Inner Wheel charity tea party that lady was talking about the earthquake she remembered as a child in north Norfolk.” So I went back to sleep.

But of course it really was an earthquake, and the coincidence of that lady's reminiscences less than 36 hours earlier must have struck all the dozens of others who had heard her at North Walsham Community Centre.

I now know that she was Gladys Seaman because North Walsham Inner Wheel sleuths kindly tracked her down for me in the wake of the quake.

I can't think that, in the 10 years I have lived in Norfolk, anyone had ever before talked to me about local earthquakes until Mrs Seaman's extraordinarily prescient comments, so I went to meet her and hear her tale.

Mrs Seaman, nee Frarey was nearly nine and living in The Street, Gimmingham, with her parents and younger sister Marjorie when the biggest earthquake ever recorded in Britain struck at about 1.30am on June 7 1931.

It measured 6.1 on the Richter scale and was centred in the North Sea, 120km north-east of Great Yarmouth.

“I remember it very well,” said Mrs Seaman, who now lives on Aylsham Road, North Walsham. “There was a sound just like a steam roller - I can still hear it. It came along the road, rolling up from the coast, and the whole house rattled like anything.

“My sister and I were in single beds, with mum and dad in the next room. They came in to us and mum got in with me, and dad got in with my sister, to comfort us.

“We were one of the only homes in Gimmingham with a wireless and at 6pm that evening there was a complete crowd outside our gate because they all wanted to hear what was happening. I can clearly remember my father going out to tell them what had been said on the news.”

Her memories of last week's natural phenomenon are not so vivid. Mrs Seaman did wake, unusually for her, just after one am - but there was only silence and stillness. She now believes the quake probably interrupted her sleep but it had subsided by the time she was properly awake.

The experience brought back memories for me of a terrifying journey I made in about 1980 as the passenger in a car travelling through a vicious storm in Tennessee.

We had the radio on as they tracked the course of seven tornadoes which had been spotted across the southern United States.

“We are expecting a real big one to touch down somewhere in Hamilton County,” said the radio weatherman.

“I peered out through the car window into the darkness and torrential rain. The car headlights were just picking out a roadside sign, “Welcome to Hamilton County” it said.

*More of North Norfolk's reactions to the earthquake -see this week's North Norfolk News.

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