BLETCHLEY PARK CODE BREAKERS
First of all let me amend my title - they were not code breakers at Bletchley Park but cypher breakers. The difference between a code and a cypher is that in a code one word is represented by a different word, but in a cypher each letter of the word is replaced with a different letter. So at Bletchley Park they were cypher breakers - not code breakers.
I had arrived well before seven so as to miss the rush hour traffic in Milton Keynes, which was fairly heavy, plus the roads system not that easy to follow. I spoke to the guard on the gate who said they would be opening the gates to the carpark at eight o’clock so I just waited outside, and there was my downfall for that day What I hadn’t banked on was the carparks being inside. I had previously read about the fact that dogs were not allowed in Bletchley Park, but it hadn’t occurred to me that the carparks were inside the compound, and I must admit I had forgotten about the ‘dog rule’ So having waited till they opened I then was not allowed in because of Phoebe. Unfortunately there was absolutely nowhere nearby that I would have been able to park Thebus so I was forced to head right across the town to the only out of town carpark park-and-ride without height restrictions, and by now the morning traffic was in full swing. But we managed it and after a slight contretemps with the official in charge of the coach parking section we got in and parked sideways over four spaces, fortunately it was a non fee paying carpark
I knew there was a lot of walking involved at Bletchley and I wouldn’t manage without the scooter, so I changed plan and took the bus into Milton Keynes to try and get the Apple stuff updated (my mobile connection is not fast enough for the vast amount of data needing to be downloaded) and a whole day was spent there.
On my abortive trip to Bletchley Park I had noticed a long line of parked cars in the road leading to the railway station directly opposite Bletchley Park gates, and guessing these were commuters saving the parking fees in the station carpark I thought I might steal a march on them by arriving early, and I really did arrive early - just gone four in the morning, and it was a good job as by five every space was taken. But I was in and ready for Bletchley when it opened
Apparently in the run up to the war it was known that intelligence work would be needed and a suitable place to carry out such work was needed. Bletchley Park was on the market and a bit of a white elephant, most of its estate had been sold off for housing development. I think it said there were twenty seven bedrooms and with the post war shortage of servants it was not the sort of place that many people were looking to purchase. But as I said its gates were directly opposite the railway station, which gave direct and quick access to London and more importantly Oxford and Cambridge where many of the brightest young minds of the time were to be found.
A faux shooting party was set up, complete with a chef from the Savoy to cook their meals, and as soon as war was declared the show was on the road. At first the mansion house and grooms' accommodation in the stable yard was sufficient, but as time went on more and more wartime building were erected. Apparently at the end of the war there were some ten thousand people working there round the clock, and it is thought that their efforts shortened the war by three or more years.
There is lots more to read on the internet, and of course the films which have recently been made: though I don’t think quite as many Americans were involved in reality as in the Hollywood version.
There was lots to see there, especially if you are interested in machinery and technology, which if you have read this far in my journal you will have guessed that I am not, but there were lots of other more atmospheric bits there to give a flavour of the how it must have been during wartime. I liked the mock up of the offices in the library and the reconstruction of Turing’s office complete with chained mug.
Much has been made of his oddness in this sort of thing, but I would guess that in a workplace with ten thousand people working round the clock your tea mug would have gone missing with amazing regularity,so chaining it up certainly mad sense to me. But our guide did make me laugh when he explained that Turing though a genius, was not technically minded and rode an ancient bike whose chain constantly slipped, but he worked out that it only slipped on the eighth rotation of the pedals, so rather than fixing the bike he rode by pedalling seven times forwards and once back on the eighth stroke.
There is an excellent statue to him at the museum constructed out of thousands of small sections of slate, very apposite and a fine piece of work.
If you want some more in depth reading there is quite a lot of info on these two sites.