Events Archive





November 2015

At the November meeting Paul Rason addressed the Society on "Knockholt's WW2 Secret".

From the beginning of the war British Intelligence had been intercepting German messages in Morse code encrypted on Enigma machines and eventually decoded at Bletchley Park.
Then new, non-Morse signals began to appear.
These were teleprinter messages, often of the first importance.

MI6 acquired Ivy Farm at Knockholt as a listening post to intercept the new messages, transcribe the encrypted text, and send the transcripts to Bletchley Park by dedicated telegram lines (that is why the telephone exchange at Knockholt is so large) or by despatch riders.

Encoded on the formidable Lorenz machines, these messages could not be decoded until one German operator made some lazy mistakes, and even then the work had to be done manually until Colossus was built.

There were six workers at Ivy Farm in 1942, under the direction of H. C. Kenworthy, seconded from Marconi; by 1945 there were 815, housed around the neighbourhood and brought to Knockholt in shifts by special buses.

Ivy farmhouse is still there, in the centre of the village, and can be glimpsed from Ivy Lane, but the 20-odd huts built in the grounds have been taken down and replaced by a bowling green.


Shoreham And District
Historical Society
Affiliated to
The Shoreham Society
The Kent History Federation and
The Kent Archaeological Society

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March 24, 2016

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Shoreham And District Historical Society