Military Wiki
Bletchley Park, England
The Mansion
Established 1938 as a code-breaking centre, and in 1993 as a museum
Location Bletchley, Milton Keynes, England, United Kingdom
Coordinates 51°59′47″N 0°44′34″W / 51.99651°N 0.74276°W / 51.99651; -0.74276Coordinates: 51°59′47″N 0°44′34″W / 51.99651°N 0.74276°W / 51.99651; -0.74276
Director Iain Standen

Bletchley Park is an estate located in the town of Bletchley, in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, England, and is run by the Bletchley Park Trust as a heritage attraction. New attractions are becoming available regularly. Up to date details can be found on the Bletchley Park website. Now underway is an £8m, Heritage Lottery Funded restoration programme, which will come to fruition in time for the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

During the Second World War, Bletchley Park was the site of the United Kingdom's main decryption establishment, the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS), where ciphers and codes of several Axis countries were decrypted, most importantly the ciphers generated by the German Enigma and Lorenz machines. The place was known as "B.P." to the people who worked there.[1][2] For the many members of the Women's Royal Naval Service (Wrens) who worked at Bletchley Park, their posting was to HMS Pembroke V.

Bletchley Park also housed a secret radio intercept station, and also a message sending station, although interception was soon moved to a location with better reception, and most of the "Bombes" were relocated elsewhere. "Station X", "London Signals Intelligence Centre", and "Government Communications Headquarters" were all cover names that were used during the war, and the latter (GCHQ) was adopted for the successor peacetime organisation that still bears this name.[3]

The high-level intelligence produced at Bletchley Park, codenamed Ultra, provided crucial assistance to the Allied war effort. Sir Harry Hinsley, a Bletchley veteran and the official historian of British Intelligence during the Second World War, said that Ultra shortened the war by two to four years and that the outcome of the war would have been uncertain without it.[4]

The site is now controlled by the Bletchley Park Trust. One of its tenants is a company called the Bletchley Park Science and Innovation Centre (BPSIC), which provides rental income for the Trust by providing office space and services to innovative, early stage companies.[5][6] The BPSIC refurbished some of the historic structures and occupies part of the former code-breaker buildings.[7] The National Museum of Computing, an independent voluntary organisation, rents space from the Trust to house its collection of historic computers. The museum is run by the Codes and Ciphers Heritage Trust (an independent registered charity) and is open to the public. It receives no Government or regional funding.

Since 1967, Bletchley has been part of the town, and subsequently borough, of Milton Keynes.

Early history

The lands of the Bletchley Park estate were formerly part of the Manor of Eaton, included in the Domesday Book in 1086. Browne Willis built a mansion in 1711, but this was pulled down by Thomas Harrison, who had acquired the property in 1793. It was first known as Bletchley Park during the ownership of Samuel Lipscomb Seckham, who purchased it in 1877.[8] The estate was sold on 4 June 1883 to Sir Herbert Samuel Leon (1850–1926), a financier and Liberal MP. Leon expanded the existing farmhouse into the present mansion.[9]

The architectural style is a mixture of Victorian Gothic, Tudor, and Dutch Baroque, and was the subject of much bemused comment from those who worked there, or visited, during World War II. Leon's estate covered 581 acres (235 ha), of which Bletchley Park occupied about 55 acres (22 ha). Leon's wife, Fanny, died in 1937.[10]

In 1938 the site was sold to a builder, who planned to demolish the mansion and build a housing estate. Before the demolition could take place, Admiral Sir Hugh Sinclair (Director of Naval Intelligence and head of MI6) bought the site. To cover their real purpose, the first government visitors to Bletchley Park described themselves as "Captain Ridley's shooting party".[11]

The estate was conveniently located within easy walking distance of Bletchley railway station, where the "Varsity Line" between the cities of Oxford and Cambridge – whose universities supplied many of the code-breakers – met the (then-LMS) main West Coast railway line between London, Birmingham, Manchester, and Glasgow. Starting in 1938, Post Office Telephones laid dedicated cables, for numerous telephone and telegraph circuits, from the nearby repeater station at Fenny Stratford (on Watling Street, the main road linking London to the north-west, later to be designated the A5).

Second World War

The cottages in the stableyard were converted from a tack and feed house. Early work on Enigma was performed here by Dilly Knox, John Jeffreys, and Alan Turing. The windows at the top of the tower open into a room used by Turing.

The early work carried out was conducted in Number 3 Cottage. There is NO room at the top of the tower as this was in Number 2 Cottage and the stairs leading from the ground floor to a landing and then to the bedrooms upstairs. Number 2 Cottage was occupied by the Budd family from 1940 through until 1949 as Mr Budd was the Quartermaster at the Park and the family, Robert George Budd, Emma Budd, Robert Edwin Budd, Jean Budd, Faye Budd and Neville Budd lived in Number 2 Cottage during WWII when the work by Alan Turing, Dilly Knox and J. Jeffreys was being carried out in Number 3.

The first wave of the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) moved to Bletchley Park on 15 August 1939. The main body of GC&CS, including its Naval, Military, and Air Sections, was on the ground floor of the mansion, together with a telephone exchange, a teleprinter room, a kitchen, and a dining room. The top floor was allocated to MI6. The prefabricated wooden huts were still being erected, and initially the entire "shooting party" was crowded into the mansion, its stables, and cottages. These were too small, so Elmers School, a neighbouring boys' boarding school, was acquired for the Commercial and Diplomatic Sections.[12]

Both of the two German electro-mechanical rotor machines whose signals were decrypted at Bletchley Park, Enigma and the Lorenz Cipher,[13] were virtually unbreakable if properly used. It was poor operational procedures and sloppy operator behaviour that allowed the GC&CS cryptanalysts to find ways to read them.[14]

The intelligence produced from decrypts at Bletchley was code-named "Ultra". It contributed greatly to Allied success in defeating the U-boats in the Battle of the Atlantic, and to the British naval victories in the Battle of Cape Matapan and the Battle of North Cape. In 1941, Ultra exerted a powerful effect on the North African desert campaign, against the German army, under General Erwin Rommel. General Sir Claude Auchinleck stated that, but for Ultra – "Rommel would have certainly got through to Cairo". While not changing the events, "Ultra" decrypts featured prominently in the story of Operation SALAM, László Almásy's daring mission accross the Libyan Desert behind enemy lines in 1942.[15] Prior to the Normandy landings on D-Day in June 1944, the Allies knew the locations of all but two of the 58 German divisions on the Western front. Churchill referred to the Bletchley staff as "The geese that laid the golden eggs and never cackled".[16]

When the United States joined the war, Churchill and Roosevelt agreed to pool resources. A number of American cryptographers were posted to Bletchley Park and were inducted and then integrated into the Ultra structure, being stationed in Hut 3. From May 1943 onwards there was very close co-operation between the British and American military intelligence organisations.[17] Conversely, the existence of Bletchley Park, and of the decrypting achievements there, was never officially shared with the Soviet Union, whose war effort would have greatly benefited from regular decrypting of German messages relating to the Eastern Front. This reflected Churchill's concern with security, and his distrust of and hostility to communism, even during the alliance imposed on him by the Nazi threat.

The only direct enemy action that the site experienced was when three bombs, thought to have been intended for Bletchley railway station, were dropped on 20–21 November 1940. One exploded next to the dispatch riders' entrance, shifting the rear end of Hut 4 (the Naval Intelligence hut) two feet on its base. As the huts stood on brick pillars, workmen just winched it back into position while work continued inside.[18]

Recruitment and operation

Commander Alastair Denniston was operational head of GC&CS from its formation from the Admiralty's Room 40 (NID25) and the War Office's MI1b in 1919, until 1942.[19] On the day that Britain declared war on Germany, he wrote to the Foreign Office about recruiting "men of the professor type".[20] Personal networking was used for the initial recruitment particularly from the universities of Cambridge, Oxford, and Aberdeen. Reliable and trustworthy women to perform administrative and clerical tasks were similarly recruited by personal contacts.[21] This has been characterised as recruiting "Boffins and Debs".[22] or "Dilly's Fillies" (for Dilly Knox), and the indexing section where many of the women worked was called "The Deb's Delight". Churchill is supposed to have said to Denniston after a visit: "About that recruitment – I know I told you not to leave a stone unturned, but I did not mean you to take me seriously."[23]

Cryptanalysts were selected for various intellectual achievements, whether they were linguists, chess champions, crossword experts, polyglots or great mathematicians. GC&CS was ironically referred to as "the Golf, Cheese and Chess Society".[24] In one instance, the ability to solve a Daily Telegraph crossword in under 12 minutes was used as a test. The newspaper was asked to organise a competition, after which each of the successful participants was contacted and asked whether they would be prepared to undertake "a particular type of work as a contribution to the war effort". The competition itself was won by F H W Hawes of Dagenham in Essex who finished in less than eight minutes.[25]

New entrants were given a basic grounding in codebreaking at the Inter-Service Special Intelligence School set up by John Tiltman. Initially at a RAF depot in Buckingham, it moved to an ex-Gas Company showroom in Ardour House, 1 Albany Road, Bedford, which was known locally as "the Spy School".[26]

Working in three shifts or "watches" over 24 hours was inaugurated by the Air Section in Hut 10 under Josh Cooper, and soon became universal. The shifts were 4 p.m. to midnight, midnight to 8 a.m. (the most disliked shift), and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Staff had a six-day week, and rotated through the three shifts. Thirty minutes was allowed for the meal in the middle of the shift. After three weeks they went off at 8 a.m. and came back at 4 p.m. so did sixteen hours on the last day. The irregular working hours affected worker's health and social life, and the private homes nearby where most staff were billeted. The work was tedious and required concentration, so some "girls" collapsed and required extended rest; staff got one week leave four times a year.[27]

Some 9,000 people from the armed services and civilians were working at Bletchley Park at the height of the codebreaking efforts in January 1945,[26] and over 12,000 (of whom more than 80% were women) worked there at some point during the war. A relatively small number of men were also employed on a part-time basis, typically for one shift each week (e.g. Post Office employees who were experts in Morse code or the German language). Among the famous mathematicians and cryptanalysts working there, the most influential and the best-known in later years was Alan Turing who is widely credited with being "The Father of Computer Science".


Sustained breaking of an enemy's ciphers can be a very fragile business. The Germans progressively increased the security of Enigma networks, which required additional cryptographic developments by GC&CS. A major setback was caused by the German Navy introducing the four-rotor Enigma used for communicating with U-boats. This change temporarily stopped the ability to read this network from February to December 1942.[28]

Even a small improvement in operating policies or procedures could have set back the deciphering process by months, or even permanently. Knowing that the slightest suspicion by the Axis powers that their ciphers were being broken could lead to such a change, the authorities at Bletchley Park were extremely concerned about security.[29] All staff had to sign the Official Secrets Act (1939), and were instructed that they should never discuss their work outside their immediate section. A May 1942 personal security form stated:

  • Do not talk at meals ...
  • Do not talk in the transport ...
  • Do not talk travelling ...
  • Do not talk in the billet ...
  • Do not talk by your own fireside ...
  • Be careful even in your Hut ...[30]

The strict adherence to these constraints, and to the requirement never to ask about anyone else's work, was well accepted in a country where there were many wartime posters stating Careless Talk Costs Lives.[31] Not until F. W. Winterbotham's book The Ultra Secret was published in 1974[32] did ex-Bletchley Park staff feel free to reveal something of their wartime work. Deaths before that time meant that many parents, spouses, and children were never told more than that it was secret work for the Foreign Office or one of the armed services.[33] Even 70 years later, some people still regard themselves bound to remain silent.[34]

Intelligence reporting

Flow of information from an intercepted Enigma message[35]

Signals to Commands Abroad[36]

There was an ever-present danger that some ill-considered military or other action by the Allies might alert the enemy to the possibility that their codes were being broken. Had this happened, they would undoubtedly have introduced changes in policies and procedures, and even equipment. Such changes could have rendered previous methods of codebreaking insufficient, with serious implications for the conduct of the war.

There was a separation between deciphering the messages, and sending out intelligence derived from them. In the case of non-naval Enigma, deciphering was performed in Hut 6, and translation indexing and cross-referencing with existing information, in Hut 3. Only then was it sent out to the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), the intelligence chiefs in the relevant ministries, and later on to high-level commanders in the field.[37]

A similar situation existed for naval Enigma messages. Deciphering was in Hut 8 and translation in Hut 4. Verbatim translations were sent solely to the Naval Intelligence Division (NID) of the Admiralty's Operational Intelligence Centre (OIC) supplemented by information from indexes as to the meaning of technical terms and abbreviations, and cross-referenced information from a store of knowledge of German naval technology.[38]

Hut 4 also decoded a manual system known as the dockyard cipher. This sometimes carried messages that were also sent on an Enigma network. Feeding these back to Hut 8 provided excellent cribs for breaking the current naval Enigma key.[39]

Listening stations

Original listening equipment in the 'Station X' room

Initially, a wireless room was established at Bletchley Park. It was set up in the mansion's water tower and given the code name "Station X",[40] a term now sometimes applied to the codebreaking efforts at Bletchley as a whole. The "X" denotes the Roman numeral "ten", as this was the tenth such station to be opened by the Secret Intelligence Service. Due to the long radio aerials stretching from the wireless room, the radio station was moved from Bletchley Park to nearby Whaddon Hall to avoid drawing attention to the site.[41][42]

Subsequently, other listening stations – the Y-stations, (such as the ones at Chicksands in Bedfordshire, Beaumanor Hall, Leicestershire (where the headquarters of the War Office "Y" Group was located) and Beeston Hill Y Station in Norfolk – gathered raw signals for processing at Bletchley. Coded messages were taken down by hand and sent to Bletchley on paper by motorcycle couriers or, later, by teleprinter. Bletchley Park is mainly remembered for breaking messages enciphered on the German Enigma cypher machine, but its greatest cryptographic achievement may have been the breaking of the German on-line teleprinter Lorenz cipher (known at GC&CS as Tunny).

German signals

The working rebuilt bombe. John Harper led the team that built this (see: The British Bombe: CANTAB The Rebuild Project). It was officially switched on by the Duke of Kent, patron of the British Computer Society on 17 July 2008

The majority of the mechanically enciphered messages subjected to cryptanalysis at Bletchley Park were the product of some variation of the Enigma cipher machine. Five weeks before the outbreak of World War II, in Warsaw, Poland's Biuro Szyfrów (Cipher Bureau) revealed its achievements in decrypting German Enigma ciphers to astonished French and British intelligence.[14] The British used the Poles' information and techniques, and the Enigma clone sent in August 1939, to greatly increase their, previously very limited, success in decrypting Enigma.[43]

The bombe was an electromechanical device whose function was to discover some of the daily settings of the Enigma machines on the various German military networks.[44][45][46] The functional design was produced by Alan Turing with an important contribution from Gordon Welchman, and the engineering was by Harold 'Doc' Keen of the British Tabulating Machine Company at Letchworth. Each machine was about 7 feet (2.1 m) wide, 6 feet 6 inches (1.98 m) tall, 2 feet (0.61 m) deep and weighed about a ton.[47]

At its peak, GC&CS were reading approximately 4,000 messages per day.[48] Because of the danger of bombes at Bletchley Park being lost if there were to be an aerial bombing raid,[49] dispersed bombe outstations were established at Adstock, Gayhurst, and Wavendon.[50] Later the Wavendon and Adstock bombes were moved to Stanmore and Eastcote, though the Gayhurst site was retained. The few bombes left at B.P. were used for demonstration and training purposes only.[51]

Luftwaffe messages were the first to be read in quantity. The German navy had much tighter procedures, and the capture of code books was needed before they could be broken. When, in February 1942, the German navy introduced a version of Enigma with a fourth rotor for messages to and from Atlantic U-boats, these became unreadable for a period of ten months.[52] Britain produced modified bombes, but it was the success of the US Navy bombe that was the main source of reading messages from this version of Enigma for the rest of the war. Messages were sent to and fro across the Atlantic by enciphered teleprinter links.

A Mark 2 Colossus computer. The ten Colossi were the world's first (semi-) programmable electronic computers, the first having been built in 1943

The Lorenz on-line teleprinter cipher (SZ40/42) codenamed Tunny at Bletchley Park, was even more complicated than Enigma. It was introduced in mid-1942 for messages between German High Command and field commanders. With the help of German operator errors, the cryptanalysts in the Testery (named after Ralph Tester, its head) worked out the logical structure of the machine despite not knowing its physical form. They devised automatic machinery to help with this, which culminated in Colossus, the world's first programmable digital electronic computer. This was designed and built by Tommy Flowers and his team at the Post Office Research Station at Dollis Hill. The first was delivered to Bletchley Park in December 1943 and commissioned the following February. Enhancements were developed for the Mark 2 Colossus, the first of which was working at Bletchley Park on the morning of D-day in June. Flowers then produced one Colossus a month for the rest of the war, making a total of ten with an eleventh part-built. The machines were operated mainly by Wrens in a section named the Newmanry after its head Max Newman.

Italian signals

Italian signals had been of interest since Italy's attack on Abyssinia in 1935. During the Spanish Civil War the Italian Navy used the K model of the commercial Enigma without a plugboard; this was solved by Dilly Knox in 1937. When Italy entered the war in 1940 an improved version of the machine was used, though little traffic was sent by it and there were "wholesale changes" in Italian codes and cyphers. Knox was given a new section to work on Enigma variations, which he staffed with women, 'Dilly's girls'; including Mavis Lever who made the first break into the Italian naval traffic. She solved the signals revealing the Italian Navy's operational plans before the Battle of Cape Matapan in 1941, leading to a British victory. Although most BP staff did not know the results of their work, Admiral Cunningham visited BP in person a few weeks later to congratulate them.[53]

On entering World War II in June 1940, the Italians were using book codes for most of their military messages. The exception was the Italian Navy, which after the Battle of Cape Matapan started using the C-38 version of the Hagelin rotor-based cipher machine, particularly to route their navy and merchant marine convoys to the conflict in North Africa.[54] As a consequence, JRM Butler recruited his former student Bernard Willson to join a team with two others in Hut 4.[55][56] In June 1941, Willson became the first of the team to decode the Hagelin system, thus enabling military commanders to direct the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force to sink enemy ships carrying supplies from Europe to Rommel's Afrika Korps. This led to increased shipping losses and, from reading the intercepted traffic, the team learnt that between May and September 1941 the stock of fuel for the Luftwaffe in North Africa reduced by 90%.[57] After an intensive language course, in March 1944 Willson switched to Japanese language-based codes.[58]

A Middle East Intelligence Centre (MEIC) was set up in Cairo in 1939. When Italy entered the war in June 1940, delays in transferring intercepts to BP via congested radio links resulted in cryptanalysts being sent to Cairo in July and August. A Combined Bureau Middle East (CBME) was set up in November, though the Middle East authorities made "increasingly bitter complaints" that GC&CS was giving too little priority to work on Italian cyphers. However the principle of concentrating high-grade cryptanalysis at BP was maintained.[59] John Chadwick started cryptanalysis work in 1942 on Italian signals at the naval base 'HMS Nile' in Alexandria. Later he was with GC&CS; in the Heliopolis Museum, Cairo and then in the Villa Laurens, Alexandria.

Russian signals

Russian (Soviet) signals had been studied since the 1920s. In 1939–40 John Tiltman (who had worked on Russian Army traffic from 1930) set up two Russian sections at "Wavendon" (a country house near BP) and at Sarafand in Palestine. Two Russian high-grade army and navy systems were broken. Tiltman spent two weeks in Finland, and got Russian traffic from Finland and Estonia in exchange for radio equipment. In June 1941 when the Soviet Union became an ally, Churchill ordered a halt to intelligence operations against her. In December 1941 the Russian section was closed down, but in late summer 1943 or late 1944 a small GC&CS Russian cypher section was set up in London overlooking Park Lane then in Sloane Square.[60]

Japanese signals

An outpost of the Government Code and Cypher School had been set up in Hong Kong in 1935, the Far East Combined Bureau (FECB). The FECB naval staff moved in 1940 to Singapore, then Colombo, Ceylon, then Kilindini, Mombasa, Kenya. They succeeded in deciphering Japanese codes with a mixture of skill and good fortune.[61] The Army and Air Force staff went from Singapore to the Wireless Experimental Centre at Delhi, India. In early 1942, a six-month crash course in Japanese, for 20 undergraduates from Oxford and Cambridge, was started by the Inter-Services Special Intelligence School in Bedford, in a building across from the main Post Office. This course was repeated every six months until war's end.

Most of those completing these courses worked on decoding Japanese naval messages in Hut 7, under Col. J. Tiltman. By mid-1945 well over 100 personnel were involved with this operation, which co-operated closely with the FECB and the US Signal intelligence Service at Arlington Hall, Virginia. Because of these joint efforts, by August 1945 the Japanese merchant navy was suffering 90% losses at sea.

In 1999, Michael Smith wrote that: "Only now are the British codebreakers (like John Tiltman, Hugh Foss, and Eric Nave) beginning to receive the recognition they deserve for breaking Japanese codes and cyphers".[62]

Additional buildings

Hut 1 was the first hut to be constructed

Hut 4, sited adjacent to the mansion, was used during wartime for naval intelligence. Today, it has been refurbished as a bar and restaurant for the museum.

Hut 6 in 2004

The huts were designated by numbers; in some cases, the hut numbers became associated as much with the work which went on inside the buildings as with the buildings themselves. Because of this, when a section moved from a hut into a larger building, they were still referred to by their "Hut" code name.[63]

Some of the hut numbers, and the associated work,[64] are:

  • Hut 1 – The first hut, built in 1939[65] used to house the Wireless Station for a short time,[40] later administrative functions such as transport, typing, and Bombe maintenance. The first Bombe, "Victory" was initially housed here.[66]
  • Hut 2 – A recreational hut for "beer, tea, and relaxation", according to young messenger Mimi Gallilee.[67]
  • Hut 3 – Intelligence: translation and analysis of Army and Air Force decrypts[68]
  • Hut 4 – Naval intelligence: analysis of Naval Enigma and Hagelin decrypts[69]
  • Hut 5 – Military intelligence including Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese ciphers and German police codes.[70]
  • Hut 6 – Cryptanalysis of Army and Air Force Enigma[71]
  • Hut 7 – Cryptanalysis of Japanese naval codes and intelligence.[72][73]
  • Hut 8 – Cryptanalysis of Naval Enigma.[38]
  • Hut 9 – ISOS (Intelligence Section Oliver Strachey).
  • Hut 10Secret Intelligence Service (SIS or MI6) codes, Air and Meteorological sections.[74]
  • Hut 11 – Bombe building.[75]
  • Hut 14 – Communications centre.[76]
  • Hut 15 – SIXTA.
  • Hut 16 – ISK (Intelligence Service Knox) Abwehr ciphers.
  • Hut 18 – ISOS (Intelligence Section Oliver Strachey).

In addition to the wooden huts there were a number of brick-built blocks.

  • Block A – Naval Intelligence.
  • Block B – Italian Air and Naval, and Japanese code breaking.
  • Block C – Stored the substantial punch-card index.
  • Block D – Enigma work, extending that in huts 3, 6, and 8.
  • Block E – Incoming and outgoing Radio Transmission and TypeX.
  • Block F – Included the Newmanry and Testery, and Japanese Military Air Section. It has since been demolished.
  • Block G – Traffic analysis and deception operations.
  • Block H – Lorenz and Colossus (now The National Museum of Computing).

After the war

At the end of the war, much of the equipment used and its blueprints were destroyed. Although thousands of people were involved in the deciphering efforts, the participants remained silent for decades about what they had done during the war, and it was only in the 1970s that the work at Bletchley Park was revealed to the general public. After the war, the site belonged to several owners, including British Telecom, the Civil Aviation Authority[77] and PACE (Property Advisors to the Civil Estate). GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters), the post-war successor organisation to GC&CS, ended training courses at Bletchley Park in 1987.

The local headquarters for the GPO was based here and housed all the engineers for the local area together with all the support they needed. The Eastern Region training school was also based in the park and later part of the national BT management college which was relocated here from Horwood House. There was also a teacher-training college.

By 1991, the site was nearly empty and the buildings were at risk of demolition for redevelopment.

Bletchley Park Trust

On 10 February 1992, Milton Keynes Borough Council declared most of the Park a conservation area. Three days later, on 13 February 1992, the Bletchley Park Trust was formed to maintain the site as a museum devoted to the code-breakers. The Trust is volunteer-based and relies on public support to continue its efforts.

The site opened to visitors in 1993, with the museum officially inaugurated by HRH the Duke of Kent, as Chief Patron, in July 1994. Christine Large was appointed Director of the Trust in March 1998. On 10 June 1999 the Trust concluded an agreement with the landowner, giving control over much of the site to the Trust.[78]

In October 2005, American billionaire Sidney Frank donated £500,000 to Bletchley Park Trust to fund a new Science Centre dedicated to Alan Turing.[79] On 1 March 2006, the Park Trust announced that Simon Greenish had been appointed Director Designate, and would work alongside Large in 2006,[80] taking over on 1 May 2006.

In May 2008 it was announced that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation had turned down a request for funds because the foundation only funds Internet-based technology projects. Since Bletchley Park receives no external funding, it is in dire need of financial support. Simon Greenish, the Bletchley Park Trust's director said:

We are just about surviving. Money – or lack of it – is our big problem here. I think we have two to three more years of survival, but we need this time to find a solution to this.[81]

On 24 July 2008 more than a hundred academics signed a letter to The Times condemning the neglect being suffered by the site.[82][83] In September 2008, PGP, IBM, and other technology firms announced a fund-raising campaign to repair the facility.[84]

On 6 November 2008 it was announced that English Heritage would donate £300,000 to help maintain the buildings at Bletchley Park, and that they were in discussions regarding the donation of a further £600,000.[85]

Early in 2009, Milton Keynes Council went to a public vote as to whether they should provide funding and responding residents voted overwhelmingly in favour.

In July 2009, the British government announced that personnel who had worked at the park during the war would be recognised with a commemorative badge.[86]

In October 2009 the Heritage Lottery Fund announced a first round pass for the Bletchley Park Trust application for museum development funding and awarded £460,000 to work up detailed plans. These will be submitted early to mid-2011 in a bid to secure the £4.1 million needed to realise the plans and subject to the Trust raising the £1 million needed for match-funding the bid.

Sue Black and others have used Twitter and other social media to raise the profile and funding for Bletchley Park.[87]

In October 2011, Bletchley Park was awarded a £4.6m Heritage Lottery Fund grant which will be used "to complete the restoration of the site, and to tell its story to the highest modern standards.", on the condition that £1.7m of 'match funding' is raised by the Bletchley Park Trust.[88][89] By June 2012 it had successfully raised £2.4m to unlock the grants to restore Huts 3 and 6, as well as develop its exhibition centre in Block C.[90]

At the end of January 2012 Iain Standen, recently retired as a colonel in the Royal Corps of Signals, took over as chief executive.[91]

Museum attractions

The back of the rebuilt Bombe[92]

Stephen Kettle's 2007 statue of Alan Turing

The main collection of objects relating to the wartime codebreaking effort are in the Block-B Exhibition Centre. These include the rebuilt bombe,[93] and the Enigma collection. It also contains Stephen Kettle's 1.5-ton, life-size statue of Alan Turing, which was unveiled at Bletchley Park in 2007. It was made from approximately half a million pieces of Welsh slate, having been commissioned by American billionaire Sidney Frank.[94]

The park is also home to a number of other exhibits.[95]

  • The mansion itself. This is open for tours on Sundays and other days when it is not used for private functions.
  • The Churchill Collection – collection of Winston Churchill memorabilia.
  • Projected Picture Trust – collection of vintage cinema equipment and a small theatre showing World War II-era movie shorts.
  • Toy & Memorabilia Collection – 1930s period toy soldiers, model trains, model vehicles, Wm. Britain's lead farm and garden, and other toys, dolls, and teddy bears.
  • Bletchley Park Garage – cars include two 1930s Austin Motor Company autos that were used in the movie The Eagle Has Landed.
  • Bletchley Park Post Office – a recreation of the 1940s post office used as cover for mail delivered to the employees of Bletchley Park. The gift shop is a publisher of limited edition first day covers.
  • Diplomatic Wireless Service – original wireless and landline communications equipment as used at Bletchley Park during World War II.
  • Home Front Display – very popular with school parties – displays include rationing, evacuation, the Blitz, war-time wash day, and "Make Do & Mend".
  • Maritime Display – a display from Leighton Buzzard Model Boat Club which features many different models of both naval and commercial vessels.
  • The American Garden Trail – celebrates the links between the UK and the USA which started at Bletchley Park during the war and still continues today.
  • Oxf. & Bucks L.I. at Pegasus Bridge (D-Day, 6 June 1944) – display of artefacts, documents, memorabilia, models, and maps of this historic day.
  • 65th Nachrichten Abtellung – a German World War II Signals Group, depicting a receiving and transmitting station with many items of original equipment including an Enigma machine.
  • Pigeons at War – tells the heroic role that pigeons played during periods of war. During World War II, Britain used about 250,000 homing pigeons.
  • Children's Corner – with plenty for children to do and learn.

National Museum of Computing

Tony Sale with the rebuilt Colossus computer

In 2008 the museum signed a 25-year lease for the park's Block H to establish this national museum on the history of computing. The two trusts are separate legal entities.

The museum includes a working reconstruction of a Colossus computer by a team headed by Tony Sale,[96] along with many important examples of British computing machinery.[97]

RSGB National Radio Centre

In April 2008 the General Manager of the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) announced that the society was moving its "public headquarters", including its library, radio station, museum and bookshop, to Bletchley Park.[98] Although the RSGB intended to open the "RSGB Pavilion" at the Park in late summer to early autumn 2008, the building allocated to them was beyond economical repair and they decided to construct a new building at a different location in April 2010. The National Radio Centre was officially opened on 11 July 2012[99][100] by Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communication, and Creative Industries.

In popular culture

A scale model of a German World War II U-boat, used in the film Enigma and later donated to the Bletchley Park museum.

  • Bletchley featured heavily in Enigma and its 2001 film adaptation; although filming was done at Chicheley Hall.
  • The Second World War code-breaking sitcom pilot "Satsuma & Pumpkin" was recorded at Bletchley Park in 2003 and featured Bob Monkhouse OBE in his last ever screen role. The BBC declined to produce the show and develop it further before creating effectively the same show on Radio 4 several years later, featuring some of the same cast, entitled Hut 33. Parts of the unseen pilot are to be shown on documentaries about Bob Monkhouse on both ITV & BBC in 2010.[101]
  • The BBC Radio 4 sitcom Hut 33[102] and the play Breaking the Code were also set at Bletchley.
  • The ITV television serial Danger UXB featured the character Steven Mount who was a codebreaker at Bletchley, and was driven to a nervous breakdown (and eventual suicide) by the stressful and repetitive nature of the work.
  • In the BBC's Torchwood series, the character Toshiko Sato is revealed to have had a grandfather who worked at Bletchley Park up until the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan. Whether he continued working there after Japan declared war on the Allies is unknown.
  • A fictionalised version of Bletchley Park is featured in the novel Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson.
  • Bletchley came to wider public attention from the 1999 documentary series Station X.
  • Bletchley Park plays a significant role in the Connie Willis book "All Clear".
  • A mission in the Russian video game Death to Spies: Moment of Truth is called "Bletchley Park". It is set in a partial reconstruction of the actual estate, with certain landmarks and huts carefully reproduced. However, the plot doesn't involve Enigma, which is ironic, since in another mission of the same game the player is tasked with stealing an Enigma machine from a German submarine.
  • The Bletchley Circle (ITV, 2012) is a murder mystery set in 1952, telling a story of how four former female Bletchley code breakers use their skills to track down a serial killer. The opening scene of "Part One" was filmed on site, and the set was asked to remain there for it's close adaption of historiography.[103][104]

See also


  1. Secret Days: Code-breaking in Bletchley Park by Asa Briggs (2011, Frontline Books, London) p 1 ISBN 978-1-84832-615-6
  2. The Hut Six Story: Brealing the Enigma Codes by Gordon Welchman (1982, Allen Lane, London) p 11 ISBN 0 7139 1294 4
  3. Aldrich 2010, p. 69
  4. Hinsley 1996
  5. "BPSIC: Bletchley Park Science and Innovation Centre". Retrieved 30 January 2013. 
  6. "Bletchley Park Science and Innovation Centre". Bletchley Park Trust. Retrieved 30 January 2013. 
  7. "Bletchley Park Science and Innovation Centre". Retrieved 7 July 2011. 
  8. Morrison, Kathryn. "'A Maudlin and Monstrous Pile': The Mansion at Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire". English Heritage. Retrieved 24 April 2012. 
  9. Edward Legg, Early History of Bletchley Park 1235–1937, Bletchley Park Trust Historic Guides series, No. 1, 1999
  10. Foss, Valentin. "Bletchley Park". Retrieved 25 March 2011. 
  11. McKay 2010, p. 11
  12. Smith 1999, pp. 2–3
  13. Gannon, Colossus'
  14. 14.0 14.1 Milner-Barry 1993, p. 92
  15. Gross, Kuno, Michael Rolke and András Zboray, Operation SALAM - László Almásy’s most daring Mission in the Desert War, Belleville, München, 2013
  16. Lewin 2001, p. 64
  17. Taylor 1993, pp. 71, 72
  18. Bletchley Park National Codes Centre. "The Cafe in Hut 4". Retrieved 3 April 2011. 
  19. Erskine & Smith 2011, p. xiv
  20. Budiansky 2000, p. 112
  21. Hill 2004, pp. 13–23
  22. Hill 2004, pp. 62–71
  23. McKay, Sinclair The Secret Life of Bletchley Park (2010, Aurum Press, London) pp 5,776,160 ISBN 978 1 84513539 3
  24. "BBC News UK: Saving Bletchley for the nation". 2 June 1999. Retrieved 2 February 2011. 
  25. The Daily Telegraph, "25000 tomorrow" 23 May 2006
  26. 26.0 26.1 Smith 1999, pp. 79,82 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Smith89P205-6" defined multiple times with different content
  27. McKay, Sinclair The Secret Life of Bletchley Park (2010, Aurum Press, London) pp 70,102,105 ISBN 978 1 84513539 3
  28. Mahon 1945, p. 77
  29. Hinsley & Stripp 1993, p. vii
  30. Hill 2004, pp. 128–129
  31. McKay 2010, p. 67
  32. Winterbotham, F.W. (2000). "The Ultra secret: the inside story of Operation Ultra, Bletchley Park and Enigma". Orion Books Ltd. ISBN 978-0-7528-3751-2. OCLC 222735270. 
  33. Hill 2004, pp. 129–135
  34. Withers-Green, Sheila (2010). "audiopause audio: I made a promise that I wouldn't say anything". Retrieved 15 July 2011. 
  35. Sale, Tony. "Information flow from German ciphers to Intelligence to Allied commanders.". Retrieved 30 June 2011. 
  36. Bennett 1999, p. 302
  37. Calvocoressi 2001, pp. 70–81
  38. 38.0 38.1 Calvocoressi 2001, p. 29
  39. Erskine 2011, p. 170
  40. 40.0 40.1 Watson 1993, p. 307
  41. Smith & Butters 2007, p. 10
  42. Pidgeon 2003
  43. Twinn 1993, p. 127
  44. Budiansky (2000) p. 195
  45. Sebag-Montefiore (2004) p. 375
  46. Carter, Frank (2004). "From Bombe Stops to Enigma Keys". Bletchley Park Codes Centre. Retrieved 31 March 2010. 
  47. Ellsbury, Graham (1988). "The Turing Bombe: What it was and how it worked". Retrieved 1 May 2010. 
  48. Carter, Frank. "The Turing Bombe". ISSN 1177-1380. 
  49. "Bletchley Park Jewels". Retrieved 16 April 2010. 
  50. Toms, Susan (2005). "Enigma and the Eastcote connection". Retrieved 16 April 2010. 
  51. The Hut Six Story: Breaking the Enigma Codes by Gordon Welchman (1982, Allen Lane, London) p 141, ISBN 0 7139 1294 4
  52. Smith 2006, p. 34
  53. Batey, Mavis Breaking Italian Naval Enigma in The Bletchley Park Codebreakers by Ralph Erskine and Michael Smith (2011, Biteback, London) pp 73–92 ISBN 9781849540780
  54. Hinsley, Sir Harry (1996). "The Influence of ULTRA in the Second World War". Retrieved 23 July 2012.  Transcript of a lecture given on Tuesday 19 October 1993 at Cambridge University
  55. Dakin, Alec (1993). "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}".  in Hinsley & Stripp 1993, pp. 50–56
  56. Wilkinson, Patrick (1993). "Codebreakers: The inside story of Bletchley Park". In Hinsley, F.H.; Stripp, Alan. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-280132-6. 
  57. "July 1941". Bletchley Park. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  58. Anna Pukas (28 April 2012). "Our family war heroes". Daily Express. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  59. Hinsley, Harry British Intelligence in the Second World War , Volume One: Its Influence on Strategy and Operations (1979, Her Majesties Stationery Office, London) pp 191–221 & 570–572 ISBN 0 11 630933 4
  60. Smith, Michael GC&CS and the First Cold War in The Bletchley Park Codebreakers by Ralph Erskine and Michael Smith (2011, Biteback, London) pp 31–33 & 156, ISBN 9781849540780
  61. Smith, Michael. "Mombasa was base for high-level U.K. espionage operation". Coastweek. Retrieved 20 June 2013. 
  62. Smith 2001, pp. 127–151
  63. Some of this information has been derived from The Bletchley Park Trust's Roll of Honour.
  64. Smith & Butters 2007
  65. Tony Sale "Bletchley Park Tour", Tour 3
  66. Sale, Tony. "Virtual Wartime Bletchley Park: Alan Turing, the Enigma and the Bombe". Retrieved 7 July 2011. 
  67. McKay 2010 p52
  68. Millward 1993, p. 17
  69. Dakin 1993, p. 50
  70. "Seventy Years Ago This Month at Bletchley Park: July 1941". Retrieved 8 July 2011. 
  71. Welchman 1984
  72. Loewe 1993, p. 260
  73. Scott 1997
  74. Kahn 1991, pp. 189–190
  75. Tony Sale "Bletchley Park Tour", Tour 4
  76. "Beaumanor & Garats Hay Amateur Radio Society "The operational huts"". Archived from the original on 13 November 2007. 
  77. BellaOnline "Britain's Best Kept Secret"
  78. Bletchley Park Trust "Bletchley Park History"
  79. Action This Day, Bletchley Park News, 28 February 2006
  80. Bletchley Park Trust Appoints Director Designate, Bletchley Park News, 1 March 2006
  81. ZDNet "Bletchley Park Faces Bleak Future"
  82. Letters "Saving the heritage of Bletchley Park", The Times.
  83. "Neglect of Bletchley condemned", BBC News.
  84. PGP, IBM help Bletchley Park raise funds
  85. "New lifeline for Bletchley Park", BBC News.
  86. "Enigma codebreakers to be honoured finally", The Daily Telegraph.
  87. Sue Black, Jonathan P. Bowen, and Kelsey Griffin, Can Twitter Save Bletchley Park? In David Bearman and Jennifer Trant (editors), MW2010: Museums and the Web 2010, Denver, USA, 13–17 April 2010. Archives & Museum Informatics.
  88. "Bletchley Park wins £4.6m Heritage Lottery Fund grant", BBC News, 5 October 2011. Retrieved 5 October 2011.
  90. "Bletchley Park gets £7.4m to tart up WWII code-breaking huts", "The Register", 27 June 2012
  91. "Bletchley Park names Iain Standen as new chief executive". BBC News. 17 January 2012. Retrieved 29 January 2013. 
  92. Harper, John (2008). "Bombe Rebuild Project". Retrieved 24 March 2011. 
  93. John Harper "The British Bombe"
  94. "Bletchley Park Unveils Statue Commemorating Alan Turing". Retrieved 30 June 2007. 
  95. "What to see at Bletchley Park". Bletchley Park Trust. Retrieved 30 January 2013. 
  96. Tony Sale "The Colossus Rebuild Project"
  97. "The National Museum of Computing". Retrieved 30 January 2013. 
  98. Peter Kirby, GoTWW (May 2008). "Relocation Update". Radio Society of Great Britain. p. 06. 
  99. "National Radio Centre Official Opening". Radio Society of Great Britain. August 2012. p. 12. 
  100. David Summer, K1ZZ (October 2012). "RSGB opens showcase for amateur radio at Bletchley Park". The American Radio Relay League. pp. 96. 
  101. Youngs, Ian (19 March 2004). "Bob Monkhouse's last laugh". BBC News. 
  102. BBC Radio 4 — Comedy — Hut 33
  103. Hollingshead, Iain (4 September 2012). "What happened to the women of Bletchley Park?". Retrieved 6 September 2012. 
  104. Shaw, Malcolm. "Bletchley Park drama to air on television". ITV website. ITV. Retrieved 6 September 2012. 

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