County Durham’s residents will soon have the chance to get up close to a real Enigma code machine.
The World War II relic will be on display as part of an event at a County Durham theatre this weekend.
Dr Mark Baldwin has spent 25 years researching and telling the stories of the men and women who worked at the government’s top-secret Bletchley Park base, cracking German military codes in the Second World War.
Their ingenuity played a vital role in the Allied victory, shortened the War by several years and probably saved millions of lives.
Dr Baldwin has given talks on this fascinating topic all over the world and – on Friday 14th June – he will be sharing his thoughts on the Enigma, the Allied codebreakers and German U-boats with an audience at Durham City’s Gala Theatre.
His talk – entitled Codebreakers: The Story of the Enigma – will also feature one of the few surviving Enigma machines, devices that the Germans used to encrypt secret communications.
Dr Baldwin will give a hands-on demonstration of how the machine worked and audience members will be able to get a closer look at the Enigma at the talk’s end.
Dr Baldwin said, “The importance of the Enigma machine and the work that went on at Bletchley Park cannot be underestimated.”
“The German forces thought their messages were completely secure, but our brilliant codebreakers were able to break the code and decipher not just a few, not hundreds, but millions of secret messages.”
“This was instrumental in bringing an early conclusion to the war. I would like to think the Allies would still have won regardless, but it would have taken another two years at least.”
Dr Baldwin became interested in Bletchley Park when he was running a second-hand bookshop in the early nineties in his hometown of Cleobury Mortimer in Shropshire.
“I was going through some books which I was going to include in one of our sales catalogues,” Dr Baldwin said, “and one of them was called Very Special Intelligence. It wasn’t clear what the book was about from the title so I started reading it to find out.”
“I soon discovered it was about what went on at Bletchley Park and I was hooked.”
“At the time, the story was not as well-known as it is today – there have been quite a few books, films and television programmes on it since then.”
“I spoke to some of my customers about it and they didn’t know about it either so I decided I had to do something about this. Since then, I have travelled the world telling the story of the amazing men and women of Bletchley Park. It has changed my life.”
The manager of the Gala Theatre, Robin Byers, said, “The skills of those who worked at Bletchley Park helped achieve the freedoms we enjoy today. We are delighted to welcome Dr Baldwin to Durham to offer his fascinating insights into this remarkable story.”
Codebreakers: The Story of the Enigma will take place on Friday 14th June at 7.30 pm. Tickets are priced at £15, £13 for concessions and £12 for Gala members.
(The featured image shows Dr Mark Baldwin and his Enigma machine.)