Posts Tagged ‘Cambridge Five’

Open Cambridge “Cambridge Spies Tour”

Kings College

Kings College Cambridge

 

Not always just what it says on the Tin

When I was in business the government organisation; Business Link offered, after the Financial Crisis free advice sessions on how to improve a small business. It is fair to say, in my case certainly, they helped the business to survive. Not only were the lectures and seminars useful but so were the conversations and points raised by fellow attendees, I often learned nearly as much about other things from these snippets as from the talks themselves.

So it was with the Cambridge Spies Tour. The incidental information from our tour guide was an extra bonus to the core topic.

Setting the Hare Running

After the tour, I started rechecking the information scribbled down whilst walking around as I did more names were thrown up. Whilst checking spellings of the names of those mentioned even more names connected with spying and espionage came to light with Cambridge University connections. No doubt there are many, many more names and achievements connected with espionage hidden from view but none the less important. Whenever researching anything,  I go off in other directions. Where names have cropped up that are relevant I have included them in addition to the ones mentioned by our guide.

A walk around some of Britain’s most important History

Cambridge was Saturday busy for the Open Cambridge Spies Tour even though it was before the start of term with the influx of students swelling the population of the city by 25%.

Parties of Japanese tourists were it seemed everywhere in the crowded streets, their groups led by flag-carrying guides. Cyclists wove around and through the crowds avoiding the selfie-takers gathered outside every building of note.

We set off from outside the Guildhall at about eleven fifteen, our tour guide was a very nice lady, a microbiologist; Deborah I think. I meant to write her name down but had such an interesting conversation with her on the walk back after the tour it slipped my mind until later if you read the blog and have got your name wrong please let me know, I will correct it.

We set off turning left at the Guildhall to stop a little way down Peas Hill away from the noise of the market buskers allowing Deborah to brief us on the tour. Moving on we entered Benet Street stopping briefly outside the Eagle Pub, reputed to be Cambridge’s oldest. It is famous for the announcement of the DNA discovery and also for the names of RAF squadrons marked in the ceiling of the RAF Bar. I said it is not just about what it says on the tin.

Next was Free School lane stopping off by the old Cavendish Laboratories and a quick peek at the crocodile carving on the wall of the Mond Laboratory.

Crocodile Cavendish Laboratory

Crocodile carving on the wall of the Cavendish Laboratory

The connection with spying; Theodore Hall was mentioned, an American physicist who had passed nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union, he worked at the Cavendish Laboratory post-war until his retirement.

Pembroke College

Making our way by Botolph Lane to Trumpington Street our next stop was at Pembroke College. Founded by the Countess of Pembroke in 1347, it had an original statute that required students to report fellow students if they indulged in excessive drinking or visited disreputable houses.

Maurice Dobb studied here and went on to teach at King’s where he met Kim Philby

A former master was Sir Richard Dearlove former chief of the SIS (MI6).

Corpus Christi College

Moving further along Trumpington Street we arrived outside Corpus Christi College. Christopher Marlowe the playwright was perhaps the college’s most famous graduate also possibly one of the earliest to be involved in espionage, in his case during the reign of Elizabeth the first.

Cedric Belfrage who stayed in the same room as Marlowe went onto become a British/Soviet double agent.

Harry Shergold the British handler of Penkovsky at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis is also a graduate.

King’s College

The next stop was at King’s College famous for its former student Francis Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth the first’s spy-master noted or notorious for unearthing the Babington Plot that led to the execution of Mary Queen of Scot’s.

Kings College

Kings College Cambridge

Another of its alumni was Dilly Knox responsible for decoding the Zimmerman telegram that helped bring the USA into World War 1 he also helped set up Bletchley Park and broke several Axis codes.

Alan Turing is probably though its best-known connection with the world of espionage, his work on computers helped, by Churchill’s estimation, shorten the war by two years and saved millions of lives in doing so.

Maurice Dobb mentioned earlier lectured at King’s and was suspected of being a talent spotter for  Comintern during the thirties.

Gonville and Caius College

Moving on we passed by the gate of Gonville and Caius College with its statues of the three founders, this had been Stephen Hawking’s College. Our guide had no comment to make on spying connections however a professor of the college has fairly recently been identified as a recruiter for MI6. Our guide said that statues of college founders always depicted them holding a building, I didn’t know that.

Gonville

Gonville and Caius College Great Gate with statues of its three founders.

 

Trinity College

We continued to the Great Gate of Trinity College with the statue of Henry the Eight.  The college is famous for its connection with Sir Isaac Newton and more recently for those of us computer users, Alan Turing.

Cambridge_Trinity_College_Great_Gate_2011_detail

Trinity College Great Gate Henry the eighth’s sword replaced with a chair leg

An early cryptographer educated at Trinity and working for Francis Walsingham was Thomas Phelippes, responsible for deciphering the code used in the Babington plot

The Cambridge five were all students of Trinity and Trinity Hall, Kim Philby, Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean, John Cairncross and Anthony Blunt. All were Soviet spies.

The Cambridge five

The Cambridge five

Also associated with the Cambridge five and working for MI5 was the biologist Victor Rothschild, he claimed to be only a bit left-wing.

The Cambridge five were members of an undergraduate group called the Apostles, given the link with espionage of five members, Rothschild and the other members were investigated too.

Gordon Welchman was also a graduate, responsible for establishing the concept of Traffic Analysis and famed for his work at Bletchley Park, he was a research fellow at Sydney Sussex. College when he was recruited to work there.

St John’s College

Our last stop was outside St John’s College John Dee had been involved in espionage for Queen Elizabeth the first.

Others

During my research, other names came to light Malcolm Muggeridge graduate of Selwyn College worked for MI6 during the war.

More recently Christopher Steele graduate of Girton College was a member of MI6. He went onto set up Orbis Business Intelligence Services, noted for its report on compromising material held by the Russian government on Donald Trump.

 

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