Bletchley Park, home to the WW2 code breakers, the secret government code and cypher school originally set in a quiet rural location, but now engulfed in the new City of Milton Keynes. Originally it operated from the Mansion House but quickly spread to an ever increasing number of outbuildings which are still there today and are well used as exhibit rooms, a few which are still in the process of being restored.
Admission to the complex is £15 with a concession price of £13 per adult, if this is your sort of thing its money well spent but don’t do as we did and run out of time as the site is large and spread over a wide area. There are beautiful gardens and lakes to enjoy as well as a picnic area so go prepared.
At reception you also have the option of joining a guided tour party should you so wish, we chose to do our own thing and even though we had a plan of the complex it was a little baffling to begin with but we soon sorted it. Anyway the apart from the training school the main purpose of Bletchley Park was the breaking of the codes set from the infamous new Enigma Machine, in 1939 the best cryptographers and mathematicians were shipped in (including Ian Fleming of James Bond fame) and work started on breaking the coded messages using what was known as the ‘Bombe’ machine. When you consider the standard three-rotor Enigma machine was capable of being set to approximately 158,000,000,000 possible combinations cracking the code was not easy, but it usually took between two and six hours to do. The’ Bombe’ machine which was so successful in aiding the code breakers was the brainchild of Alan Turing and Gordon Welchman.
The surviving fabric of Bletchley Park shows every stage of the advances made in cryptology, computing and intelligence processes, also it has a working Bombe machine which is still in daily use and operated by a knowledgeable volunteer for the benefit of the visitors.
Also on the site is a very nice and reasonably priced café which also serves main meals should you feel the need to satisfy your appetite after all the walking, and as always the usual gift shop is there too.
It was a good four hours we spent at Bletchley park, we could have done with another two at least, so if you venture that way allow yourself around six hours, after all you can always leave early if you get round quicker than we did.