Fascinating Docking WWI exhibition

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A fascinating exhibition at Docking’s Ripper Hall on the First World War is currently running from Friday to Monday each week.

It chronicles some of the many devices and stratagems used to pursue the war aims of the allies.

Brian Holmes (left) helping John Smith set up the exhibition.   Right, in a 1915 photograph taken in Old Hunstanton, is Hamon Le Strange who family were responsible for planning and building Hunstanton MLNF15PB08350 ANL-150308-105037001

Brian Holmes (left) helping John Smith set up the exhibition. Right, in a 1915 photograph taken in Old Hunstanton, is Hamon Le Strange who family were responsible for planning and building Hunstanton MLNF15PB08350 ANL-150308-105037001

But being a Norfolk exhibition it does not neglect to show how this county significantly helped the war effort.

For example the exhibition reveals that Hunstanton played a very important, perhaps crucial, part in the eventual defeat of the enemy.

The town’s lighthouse, which was turned into a Marconi radio station, was the first radio listening post in the country – designated by Winston Churchill himself.

As such its then state-of-the-art radio receivers and massive aerial were able to listen in to German Naval radio traffic. The crowning moment of its war effort was when it picked up signals from the German Fleet as it sailed down the Kiel Canal and out into the North Sea.

This valuable advance information enabled the British Fleet to be better prepared for the ensuing Battle of Jutland, the only major sea-battle o.

One section details some of the wide variety of animals used. Elephants were used on the land to speed the plough alongside camels and the more obvious heavy horse then still the power-house of agriculture and transport.

Dogs played an important part and pigeons were not only messenger carriers but were also used - with a camera strapped to their breast - as ‘reconnaissance’ pigeons.

The exhibition even shows visitors that kangaroos played their part in helping the war effort.

The exhibition reveals one particularly unusual fact from the front lines.

European glow worms were collected by soldiers in the trenches so that they could read letters from home after dark.

Researcher, John Smith, has spent an untold amount of time putting together the show and another highlight closer to home explains how the weekly wash day was used to help the war effort.

It was a time before the modern washing machine when only soap, water and elbow grease kept the population clean.

Another glimpse into the past a century ago, though not part of the war effort, is a series of some 40 pairs of ‘ Then and Now’ photographs.

It shows Hunstanton shops and businesses in the nineteenth century alongside photographs taken this year.

The plan is to continue to expand this series as a permanent record of the town’s heritage.