A visit to Bletchley Park

An incredible day out visiting the famous and remarkable Bletchley Park!

Located in Milton Keynes, Bletchley Park is the home of the British codebreakers and mathematicians of the Second World War. Having seen the movie (and on the way to read the book!), I was extremely excited and could hardly wait to visit the place where history was made. For those of you who are just hearing about this and haven’t watched the well-known movie with Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game), the events that took place at Bletchley Park decided the outcome of the Second World War.

Guided by the movie I’ve seen and a few articles I’ve read,  I expected to see something close to a monument of Alan Turing. After all, he was the genius who broke the unbreakable Enigma-machine, essentially turning the odds in favour of Great Britain. Close enough.

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The Stacked Slate statue of Alan Turing at Bletchley Park.

What I didn’t know was that he only designed the machine, while the actual construction of the Bombes was the work of Harold Keen. (And this is why you should never rely on what you see in movies, even though they are based on real events.)

Interestingly enough, the British team was not the first in their endeavours to crack the Enigma and defeat Germany. Before Alan Turing, Harold Keen and the team at Bletchley, there was a group of Polish mathematicians, who designed the first codebreaking machine. In 1938 Marian Rejewski, Henryk Zygalski and Jerzy Rozycki began the work on the device, that only a few years later gave the English not only an idea but something to build on.

Their names are rightly displayed at Bletchley, as a sign of their great contribution to cracking the Enigma machine.

Bletchley Park Polish Team

The working Bombe at Bletchley is absolutely remarkable. We had the pleasure of attending a lecture, at which we learned the mechanics behind each of the cables and the connection between the drums. (and a few curious stories).

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The Bombe.

*It took seven years for the team to rebuild the Bombe. (and they had the blueprints)

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The office of Alan Turing.

All of the huts have been restored so you can see where the messages were decrypted and analysed.

Huts

Visiting Bletchley Park also means you are visiting the place, where the movie, The Imitation Game, was originally shot.

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One day is absolutely not enough to fully explore Bletchley Park. This is why I will definitely be going back.

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