Back to where it all began (part 2)

Leaving Bletchley Park station, its only a few metres to the Bletchley Park site. Not knowing what to expect but imagining to see either the Victorian Mansion or the famous huts where the code breakers worked. What I didn't expect to see was a half completed modern housing estate. Oh well that progress I guess.

Its not until you get inside, past the modern car park and beyond the ticket desk that the site starts to come alive and reveal the stories of the top secret work that went on there and ultimately contributed massively to bringing WW2 to an end when it did.

The first part of the exhibition is an overview of all the work that went on at Bletchley park,the operation of the famous German enigma machines and the efforts to crack them, using films,text and computer interactives. The videos project onto the walls without any special screen were effective adding a layer of Trompe-l'œil to the room,but was disappointed by those projected on to what looked to be domestic projector screens. The projectors weren't lined up to the screens properly making them look ad-hoc and temporary. Ok A.V geekery over, promise not to do that again.

At the exit to the first building its possible to pick up a Audio guide unit, I collected one but never actually used it, just not that bothered about them.

As with the computer Museum I'm not going to give an exhibit by exhibit account of my visit, but do want to mention the hut that contains the recreation of the Bombe machine, It is worth waiting for the demonstration of how it works and after that the story of Alan Turing. Reading Gordon Brown's posthumous apology to Turing brought a tear to my eye. It makes me sad that so many people had to die fighting to keep our freedom and yet just a few years after that war Turing and many other men were persecuted by the police for their sexuality. The world has moved on so much since that time, it might not be perfect but it scares me to think what it would be like now if the allies hadn't been successful in overpowering the Nazis. Bletchley park and the Colossus at the computer museum show it took brains as well as brawn.

The other parts of the site were equally interesting. walking around the huts that Turing and the other code breakers worked in was interesting. They seemed so spartan when compared to modern offices, none of the nick-nacks or other distractions that so often adorn peoples work stations today. The projected films and audio capture some of the details of the work nicely and don't look out of place.

I didn't get a chance to look at everything but did make time to learn about the work the work the Wrens did operating the computers. Hut 11 I think it was, a wonderful projected video conversation. Before it was time for my train back to London there was just time for a quick look around the mansion house and a sit down for a coffee and cookie.

So thats the story of one site,two museums. Computing and technology moves at an alarming rate, but it was good to step back and learn about it from the beginning.  For many years the story of Bletchley and Colossus was kept a secret.  That it is now public knowledge and the sacrifice and dedication of the people who worked there and the contribution that Bletchley made to the war effort and to the development of modern technology  can be rightfully recognised.


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