District news, April 10, 2015

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Lynn Society of Arts and Sciences – The Society’s latest speaker was Rob Johnstone, a retired professional engineer, who has a lifelong interest in Bletchley Park.

He introduced his talk by differentiating between codes such as postcodes which are interpreted using a code book and are easy both to obtain and to copy, and ciphers which need to be translated little by little using a key.

He said that Julius Caesar used a simple form of cipher, and Francis Walsingham, working for Elizabeth 1, was able to break codes and ciphers to uncover the plots of Mary, Queen of Scots. Wellington had Napoleon’s messages read.

By 1914 the Admiralty, using the electric telegraph, was able to intercept German encoded communication. In 1918 a government code and cypher school was established.

It was known in the 1920s that the Germans were intending to use an Enigma machine (invented by the Dutch, initially for use by banks.)

In the 1930s Polish mathematicians obtained a machine, built their own ‘bomba’ and devised two cyber-checking methods. By travelling to Warsaw, Alastair Dennison and Dilly Knox learnt from the Poles. In 1939 Alan Turing built a ‘bombe’.

Mr Johnstone explained that Bletchley Park was chosen to house the intelligence service unit, since it happened to be for sale, and was well-placed for communication.

Admiral Sinclair knew he needed as cryptographers England’s top mathematicians who he took from elite universities. Intelligence officers were taken from army units. These were joined by many others including switchboard and bombe operators, and encryption clerks.

By the end of the war 9000 people were there. All were bound to secrecy. Despatch riders, often young women, would take messages - a perilous task in the dark with no road signs - to and from places like Chatham where the messages were received.

A database was kept, with over one million punch-heads used weekly. January 1940 saw Bletchley Park’s first break into current Enigma traffic. A bombe was installed in March that year, and slowly, through hours of painstaking work, German messages were encrypted. However, when information was discovered subterfuge was needed to prevent the Germans from realising that that their communications were being read.

Eventually, in 1945, Colossus, the first computer which could do in minutes the calculations that took so long for humans to do, was built. Of the ten Colossi, two remain, said Mr Johnstone.

King’s Lynn Organ and Keyboard Club – Once again David Holford produced another interesting quiz and music programme for the members’ evening.

This time the theme was ‘Name this Tune’ with David playing the tunes on the Orla organ. Such was the enthusiasm that the audience burst into song when the best known ones were played.

There was a quiz in each half and David Godfrey provided some extra tunes without the need to name them.

Trevor Flunder, from Allens Music Centre in Yarmouth, performed the club’s professional concert last month on the latest Lowrey Inspire organ.

After a few individual numbers including The Wind Beneath My Wings, there were two long medleys, the first of country and western numbers, including the Root Beer Rag and Duelling Banjos, and the second of Frank Sinatra songs with, of course, My Way and The Lady is a Tramp.

After the interval for refreshments and the raffle, the Lowrey fanfare heralded the second half and soon the programme was into a Glen Miller medley in big band style.

Trevor concluded the evening with a long Elvis Presley selection and then finally sent his audience on our way with sa rock and roll encore. Although the organ’s automatic features were much in evidence [they are home organs, after all] Trevor’s undoubted playing skills were also very much to the fore.

The club’s next professional concert will be held in St. John’s Church, Lynn, on Wednesday, April 15, at 7. 30pm, with Claudia Hirschfeld, from Cologne, , playing a concert programme of popular, light and easy listening music for all tastes. Claudia is a world renowned professional organist and keyboard player who performs on a three-manual Wersi Louvre organ..

Details available on 01553 671285/774664 .


Royal British Legion – Hilarious readings by Mary Parsons of Pam Ayres’ poetry amused members of the Hunstanton branch’s women’s section at their latest monthly meeting.

During the business agenda, the secretary, Mrs L Witton, gave the financial report which recorded a balance of £172.13.

Correspondence included details of the forthcoming national conference at Bournemouth from April 14-16.

It was reported that three members had attended the group meeting at the Church Rooms, at Gaywood.

The competition was for a candle holder and was judged by a visitor to the meeting.

It was won by Mrs Joan Laws with Mrs Lorna Witton second and Mrs Laws third.

The raffle was won by Mrs Daphne Bunting.

The next meeting will be held at the United Services Club at 2pm on Friday, April 17 and all meetings during the summer months will also be held at this venue.

There was a reminder that the competition on this occasion will be for a paper knife.

tilney st lawrence

Contact: Phil Cullen

01945 880718

Bingo – Another of the regular bingo sessions for local charities and worthwhile causes was held at Tilney St Lawrence Village Hall on Thursday, April 2

It was organised by Kay Waring, Doreen Hattigan and Bridget Wells – and this successful fundraiser realised £445 for the William Day Centre and Crossroads funds.

Caller was Peter Kerrison, Door stewards Vera Overson and Kay Rayner and ticket sellers were Audrey Calton, Rachel Curtis and Geoff Spenton.

The checkers for the evening were Rose Day, Helen Cook and Abby Marshall.

Refreshments were served by Doreen Hattigan, Kay Waring, Bridget Wells and Sherralyn Clark.

Other helpers were Kirsty Jackson, Diana Doughty, Ray Houltram, Claire Evans and Phil Cullen.

The next bingo will be held on Thursday, April 16, and on that occasion proceeds will go to the Friends of Terrington St John School.