Saturday, March 14, 2009

Bletchley Park

Last Monday I did a day trip I've been meaning to do for ages. After breakfast I took a train from Euston up to the nondescript small town of Bletchley, just south of Milton Keynes. Bletchley itself has little to recommend it but about five minutes walk from the station is a site of massive historical importance in modern history and in cryptanalysis as a whole.

Bletchley Park is an estate with a manor house built in around 1880 by the Leon family who lived in it. When the family sold up the site was bought by the UK government. It was convenient to them as it was close to the main rail and road routes to London. The reason for the purchase was that the government wanted to move their cryptanalysts out of London and expand the cipher-breaking operations at the outbreak of World War 2. The operation took over not only the manor house but a myriad huts, and brick office blocks built on the site to provide work space for the up to 10 000 people who worked there at the height of the efforts to break the Enigma cipher that the Germans were using to encrypt their communications.

The site is now a museum, many of the huts have displays about the Enigma machine, the bombes used to break its cipher and the minds who enabled this to happen, especially Alan Turing. The site also has a rebuilt Colossus, arguably the world's first electronic computer, which was constructed to break the even tougher Lorenz cipher that Hitler used to communicate with his chiefs of staff.

It's a fascinating place and I will probably go back at some point. Here are a few photos I took of the place:

The Main Block

Decipherment Hut on the Right, Intelligence Hut on the Left

Looking After Colossus

Office Reconstruction

Statue of Alan Mathison Turing

Inside one of Bletchley's Bombes

More Huts

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Blogger Churlita said...

That's really interesting. the photos you took are amazing...The black and whites look like they were taken in the 1940's. Very nice.

4:11 pm  

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