Thursday, 10 November 2011

10 Things... November 2011

For this months 10 Things... I decided to use a visit to Bletchley Park as an inspiration - it seems that our visit on the 15th October was so long ago, but it was such an amazing place I had to mention more about it.  So may I present....

10 Things About Bletchley Park:

1.   Bletchley Park is an estate on the edge of Milton Keynes, the Estate was included in the Domesday Book in 1086 and has had a number of owners over the years

2.   The Mansion that you see today was build by Sir Herbert Leon and includes over 30 different architectural styles
The Mansion has been added onto over the years, each time Herbert Leon went away traveling the world , he would come back and ask for changes to be made to the original design.  So the builders could make the changes he would have to go traveling again... and so the cycle continued.
3.   During World War II Bletchley Park was the home to the Government Code & Cypher School (GC&CS) when a number of wooden huts were erected

4.   There were approx 9,000 staff working at Bletchley, in 3 shifts of 3,000. All staff working at Bletchley Park lived in the local area (many staying with local families)

5.   The Daily Telegraph organised a competition, and anyone who was able to solve the Crossword in under 12 minutes was asked to submit the completed crossword & the time they took to the newspaper.  Many people were then contacted to ask if they would be prepared to undertake 'a particular type of work as a contribution to the war effort'.

6.   The staff were all working towards reading German messages sent using the Enigma Machines, as well as working to create the first ever Computer (Colossus).

7.   Mathematician Alan Turing created the 'Bombe' a electromechanical machine that was able to find settings for the Enigma machines. 

Alan Turing was an amazing Mathematician however he died in 1954 (aged 41 years) from Cyanide poising. An inquest determind that he had committed suicide. This statue in at Bletchley Park is made from slate.
8.   Bletchley Park has now re-built a working 'Bombe' for visitors to see.

This is the Bombe from the front, this device would search for the rotor settings for the German Enigma machines. It looks simple doesn't it?

This is the view of the back of the device... maybe not so simple after all!

9.   Due to the security surrounding the Code Breaking at Bletchley Park (all staff had to sign the Official Secrets Act - and were told never to discuss their work outside their section) very little was known about Bletchley and the work carried out there.

10.   Ian Flemming (author of the James Bond books) was involved with Bletchley Park and had instigated 'Operation Ruthless' to obtain details of the Enigma codes used by the German Navy.  Although his work in Navel Intelligence provided background for many of the James Bond books he never broke the Official Secrets Act!

I have just realised that I have now listed 10 Things... but I have not touched the tip of the iceberg.  Also at Bletchly Park you will find the following:
  • Bletchley Park Post Office (open on Sundays!)
  • Winston Churchill Exhibit
  • Toy & Memorabilia Collection
  • Bletchley Park Garage
  • Diplomatic Wireless Service - Original wireless & landline communication equipment
  • Colossus Rebuild Project
  • Home Front Display
  • The National Museum of Computing
  • Model Railway
  • Pigeons at War Exhibition
We could not believe how much there was to see... we did ended up running out of energy & time, so we will just have to go back for another visit.  The good news is that you entry fee gives you 1 year of access and you can visit as many times in that year as you want!!!!

At the moment Bletchley Park is trying to raise £1.7 million to match money awarded by the National Lottery so if you feel like a day out (or 2 :) ) we can highly recommend it as a place to visit.


  1. I could only dream about going to a place like that~great post!!! You took me there!!!

  2. I used to live in Northamptonshire but had never heard of Bletchly Park! Will have to check it out next time I'm back that way :)

  3. What a really interesting place, very fascinating to learn all about it! Sounds like a great day out for the next time we are in the UK, thanks for sharing!

  4. Very interesting. I met a lady who was a decoder at Bletchly park, she was really interesting. She loved her time there. x

  5. That is so interesting. I am fascinated by the secrecy of it all and the things we will never know.