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Bletchley Park

Listed under Military Museums in The United Kingdom.

  • Photo of Bletchley Park
  • Photo of Bletchley Park
  • Photo of Bletchley Park
  • Photo of Bletchley Park
  • Photo of Bletchley Park
  • Photo of Bletchley Park
  • Photo of Bletchley Park
  • Photo of Bletchley Park
Photo of Bletchley Park
Photo by flickr user temporalata
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I'm reading a brilliant book at the moment about the cracking of the German Enigma code in World War II, so it made sense to visit Bletchley Park, which is the Buckinghamshire mansion cum secret military base where it was cracked.

I say secret military base but they say Government Code and Cypher School. At the peak of 'the effort' around 9,000 people worked at Bletchley – around 80% of them women. Many of the recruits were top students from Oxford and Cambridge, and any other 'bright young things' the army could dig up. At the end of all the excitement a lot of the equipment and the blue prints to produce it were destroyed, and the thousands of people who worked there all stayed silent about their contribution to the war – that was until the 1970s. Luckily a few key pieces were kept, including several Enigma machines.

At the beginning of the 90s the house was in the line of fire for redevelopment so a trust was set up who run it and the onsite museum. Once the museum was set up work was started on rebuilding some of the decoding devices including a bombe and a Colossus computer, both used to help crack enigma, and now on display for people like myself to marvel at – the bombe is a lot bigger than I imagined it would be. The grounds also house a Winston Churchill Exhibition and an exhibition on cinema which shows WW2 films on the original projectors.

The main building is a mix of Gothic, Tudor and Dutch Baroque, and provided much entertainment for the codebreakers. Interestingly Bletchley wasn't actually owned by the government – Sir Hugh Sinclair, the head of MI6 and Director of Naval Intelligence during WW2 actually purchased the site when he founded the school because the government was unwilling to pay for it!

These days you can hire the building, so make sure you go on a day when it's not being used so you can have a look around the main house. On Sundays there are tours.

 

Written by  Simon Says.

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