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Archive for August 7, 2016

On This Day: August 7th, 2015 – Bletchley Park


Slate statue of Alan Turing at Bletchley Park

Known as the “Home of the Codebreakers”, Bletchley Park is located just outside of London, looking unassuming and a little rural. But for anyone interested in how the Allies won the Second World War, approaching Bletchley Park gives you the feeling that something extraordinary happened here. During the War, this large estate housed Britain’s codebreaking operations (the Government Code and Cypher School), though to outsiders, this was known as a radio factory.

It was at Bletchley Park that Alan Turing (b. 23 June 1912, d. 7 June 1954) – considered the father of modern computing – built his “Bombe” machine and, along with his small team, broke Hitler’s Enigma Code and helped bring the War to a close. At the end of WWII, due to the high level of secrecy, all of Turing’s work was destroyed. Having signed the Official Secrets Act, anyone who worked at Bletchley were not allowed to speak of their work and achievements. It was not until the 1970s that some of what went on inside the gates began to emerge.

A local group of historians formed the Bletchley Park Trust in 1992 to restore the estate to preserve it as a memory of all the sacrifices and hard work that took place there. The Park’s popularity grew with a new generation of visitors in 2014-15 following the release of the film, The Imitation Game – starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Allan Leech and Mark Strong – which told the story of Turing and his role in the creation of the Bombe. An exhibition of props from the film were on display at the Park during my visit which made the experience even more surreal.