Bletchley Park is an estate in the town of Bletchley, Milton Keynes (UK).
During WWII, Bletchley Park, or BP for short, was the UK's main
code breaking site.
The codes and ciphers of many countries were decrypted here, such as
messages from the German Enigma, the
and the Lorenz SZ-40/42 machines.
It's the place where brilliant people like Alan Turing, Gordon Welchman,
and about 12,000 others worked day and night during the war .
BP is now a museum that is open to the public every day.
If you are interested in the history of code and ciphers,
BP is well worth a real-life visit.
Many war-time buildings, such as the mansion, the cottage,
the stableyard, H-Block, B-Block and some huts are still
The image on the right shows the Mansion, which is one of the most
famous buildings on the site. But there is much more to see.
BP has an interesting collection of cipher machines, such as
Siemens T-52 Geheimschreiber
and much, much more.
Furthermore, BP is also the home of Colossus,
the first programmable electronic computer, that has now completely
And not to forget the Bombe,
the machine that helped breaking the Enigma codes.
Another rebuild project that has been completed successfully.
Apart from code-breaking related activities, BP is also the home of
some smaller museums and organisations that can be visited whilst at the
- Hut 1 - Diplomatic Wireless Service
Hut 1 was the first hut to be built at BP in 1939. It has now fully been
restored and houses the Diplomatic Wireless Service,
a beautiful collection of equipment collected by David White.
On display are war-time receivers, spy radio sets,
cipher machines and much more.
Open on weekends only.
- The National Museum of Computing (TNMOC)
Probably one of the largest collections of computers is on display in H-Block,
one of the former war-time buildings. The museum shows the full history of
computing and many of the machines can actually be operated. You will
certainly recognise some old friends here.
- The Colossus Rebuild Project (B-Block)
Colossus was the first programmable electronic digital computer,
developed at BP during WWII to break the German Lorenz cipher.
After the war, Colossus was kept secret for many years and all
machines were destroyed. In 1994, a team led by Tony Sale started
the reconstruction of a Colossus. An ambitious task that was completed
in 2006. The machine is now fully operational .
Read the full story here...
- Bombe rebuild project
Another ambitious task carried out at BP is the rebuild of a Bombe;
the machine that was used to break the German Enigma messages during
WWII. Started around 1995, this task was completed in 2007.
The machine is now operational and is demonstrated to the public
- Bletchley Park Post Office
- Bletchley Park Garage
- The Churchill Collection
- Home Front Display (part of B-Block exhibition)
- Maritime Display
- Light Infantry at Pegasus Bridge
- Pigeons at War
- The Projected Picture Trust
- The Toys and Memorabilia Collection
- 65th Nachrichten Abteilung
Below is a map of Bletchley Park in the UK.
The map can be downloaded
as a PDF file at the bottom of this page.
You may also click on the map to view it at a larger scale.
The name Bletchley Park dates back to 1877, when Samuel Lipscomb Seckham
purchased the estate and built a farm house. Six years later, on 4 June
1883, it was bought by Sir Herbert Samuel Leon (1850-1926) who was a
financier and Liberal MP. He expanded Seckham's farm house with a mixture of
architectural styles into what is now known as The Mansion .
The image on the right shows the mansion around 1908. It was taken from
a Kingsway Real Photo postcard that was date-stamped 8 DEC 1908, which
means that the photograph must be older than that. At that time, the estate
was still owned by Sir Herbert Leon and his wife Fanny.
After Fanny died in 1937, the site was sold to a builder in 1938 and plans
were made for the demolition of the mansion. However, before the site with
its typical mansion was
destroyed, it was bought by Admiral Sir Hugh Sinclair, then Director of Naval
Intelligence and head of MI6.
Bletchley Park was considered a convenient location, as it was within
walking distance from the Bletchley railway station, right at the junction
of the railway lines between Oxford and Cambridge (the Varsity Line) and
the line from London to the north. As we now know, the universities of
Oxford and Cambridge would supply a significant number of code-breakers
during the war.
In order to disguise the true identity of the park, the first government
visitors were announced as Captain Ridley's shooting party.
The Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) officially moved to Bletchley
Park (BP) on 15 August 1939, when the first wave of code-breakers arrived.
The rest is history. During the war, some 12,000 people worked at BP, 80%
of whom were women. They were sworn to secrecy and it wasn't until Admiral
Fredrick Wintherbotham's book The Ultra Secret came out in 1974,
that some of them started talking about their war-time work at BP.
After the war, the park had various owners and remained in use for several
purposes. It was used, for example, by the General Post Office (GPO),
later British Telecom (BT), Property Advisors to the Civil Estate (PACE) and the
Government Communications Headquarters
(GCHQ, the post-war successor to GC&CS). The latter closed its training facilities at Bletchley Park in 1987.
By 1991 the estate was largely abandonned and plans were afoot for demolition
of all buildings. On 10 February 1992 however, most of the park was declared
a conservation area by the the Milton Keynes Borough Council. Three days later
the Bletchley Park Trust was established, with the intention to turn the estate
into a museum. Finally, in 1993, the museum opened to visitors.
During WWII, British codebreakers Alan Turing and Gordon Welchman
developed a mechanical machine, called the Bombe, that was used for
breaking German messages created on the famous
Enigma cipher machine.
As none of the original Bombe machines has survived, a team led by
John Harper has built a fully operational replica which was completed
in 2007. The machine is now being demonstrated.
More about the Bombe
During WWII, the Germans used the high-end
cipher machine for messages at the highest level.
Especially for breaking these messages, Tommy Flowers developed
Colossus, the world's first electronic digital computer.
After the war, all Colossi were destroyed or dismantled.
In 1991, a team led by Tony Sale started rebuilding Colossus,
using more than 1750 valves. It is now fully operational and
on permanent display at the Computer Museum.
More about Colossus
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© Copyright 2009-2013, Paul Reuvers & Marc Simons. Last changed: Monday, 14 January 2013 - 13:03 CET