Friday, 15 July 2016

Bletchley Park

Located a little over an hour from London, the town of Bletchley seems to be an unassuming little English village. However, some of the most important events of World War Two happened here.

Bletchley Park is a place I’ve wanted to go to ever since my first visit to London in 2013. During the war, it was a major codebreaking facility. Until relatively recently, absolutely nothing was known about what happened there due to the Official Secrets Act. The secrecy was broken in the 1970s, and ever since then, more and more attention has been given to the park, as more people hear about it from books and productions such as The Imitation Game and Bletchley Circle.

The Bletchley Park itself is formed of a former manor house, surrounded by many 1940s buildings that were constructed as offices and workspaces for those who worked there. Today, many of the original huts have been either restored or reconstructed, though there are still several that need restoration and are not open to the public.

The first building we went into was Block B. The lower level of the building focuses on the Enigma and Bombe machines. While there’s a decent amount of enigma machines left, all of the large bombe machines were destroyed at the end of the war. However, there is a full-scale reproduction of one of the machines located in the building and it is frequently run to show visitors how it worked. On the same floor, there were multiple small exhibit areas featuring Alan Turing and his life, including (to my amusement and excitement) his teddy bear! Upstairs, there was an exhibit on what I’m truly interested in: the home front, and how codebreakers lived.

After visiting Block B, we went to the manor house. Most of the house isn’t open to visitors, but they had a recreation of Commander Dennison’s office, as well as a library. The back of the area open to us was home to an exhibit on The Imitation Game, which has proved to be extremely popular as it was supposed to end months ago! I quite enjoyed it, and ended up buying the movie on Amazon on the train ride back to London.

The rest of the time I was at Bletchley Park was spent looking at the various different huts. Sadly, I didn’t enjoy most of the park as much as I expected. I loved the hut that explained how the renovation and restoration work was done, and what was found during excavations. I still loved going there, but I think my dad would have enjoyed it a lot more than I did.
The library

Costumes worn by Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightly in The Imitation Game 
Me, in front of the manor house

I was a little excited when we got to the library!

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