Before I start writing a review, I always check out previous reviews to see what others have written. ESW has done an amazing job with her very comprehensive and factual review, so I’ll concentrate on my experience.
We were visiting friends in nearby Newport Pagnell who suggested a trip to Betchley on arrival. So unprepared, we didn’t buy tickets online in advance which would have been cheaper. However, my partner asked for a concession (for over 60s) and the cashier gave us two cheaper tickets. As I’m only 58, I’m not sure whether to be pleased or not! Our friends had been to Bletchley on other occasions and so ours was probably a fairly fleeting visit at 2 hours, but it gave us a good overview and, as tickets allow you to return within a year, I’m sure we’ll visit again.
We decided against the audio-guide and were pleased with the decision, as there’s already a plethora of information on the various boards and displays.
Unfortunately, as we were there mid-week, there were a number of large school groups but tried to avoid them, by either hurrying or tarrying.
All of us wondered where the Bombe machine got its name from and we read that is was probably named by Poles the invented the precursor. When discussing names, they were eating ice cream called bomba, and so used this name, which we corrupted to Bombe.
Two exhibits stood out. The first was a life size model of Alan Turing made from thin slabs of grey slate although I couldn’t establish if there was a reason for the choice of material. The second, brought a tear to my eye, and was a letter written in 2009 by Gordon Brown as Prime Minister apologising for the treatment of Alan – it ended poignantly with “This recognition of Alan’s status as one of Britain’s most famous victims of homophobia is another step towards equality, and long overdue.”
I must admit to finding a lot of the technical detail complicated to understand, but I enjoyed the upstairs gallery at Hut B, where there were boards showing what life was like at Bletchley and short videos by people who had worked there.
The huts were incredibly cramped and it was easy to imagine how hot, stuffy and noisy they would get when full of people and whirring machines. When I saw a cigarette and ashtray, I thought how much worse it would be with everyone smoking.
We finished our visit with a walk through the house and grounds which were full of Autumn colours. A return visit in Spring is a must.