Bletchley Park-day trip north of London

Old Oct 6th, 2014, 12:32 PM
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Bletchley Park-day trip north of London

I want to encourage anyone who is visiting London in the future to take a train out of Euston Station up to Bletchley Park for the day.

For those who are unfamiliar with Bletchley Park and the history behind it-here is the short version.
Before WW2 started, a property was purchased 40 miles north of London by MI6(think James Bond). They handpicked the top math,science and cryptographers folks from Cambridge and Oxford to work there.Their mission was to try and break the codes of the infamous Nazi ENIGMA machine which the Germans used in all of their campaigns.During the war,over 9,000 folks worked there with both men and women contributing their talents. By cracking the ENIGMA codes and the development of the Colossus computer,they were able to lessen the loss of lives and two years of the war. One of the remarkable things was letting the Nazis to believe that the Allied invasion/D Day would be near Calais instead of Normandy thus having them move half of their German troops there.

To get there, you take the train out of Euston Station for around 14 pounds round trip-the ride goes through beautiful countryside and towns for around 40 minutes. Bletchley Park is less than a block away from the train station and an easy walk. If you show your train ticket with an online coupon, the admission is 2 for 1 (around 15 pounds).The admission ticket is good for a year so you can come back on the same ticket for a future visit.

You will receive a free headset with a commentary that runs throughout the Bletchley campus. There are numerous buildings to see,hands on puzzles to see if you can break the codes,restaurant/cafes,videos,artifacts and museums,etc.It is absolutely fascinating and very well done. We spent over 4 hours there and found we still didn't have time to do the Colossus computer museum before it closed at 5pm.Personally, I would try and get up there by 11am to enjoy everything in one day.

Interesting tidbit-The irony of those who worked there was that they signed a "Secrets Act" with the UK government which stated that they could not tell anyone what they were doing or did during the war for 50 years. Because the time limit is over and the ability to open old files has happened, this place has once again come alive for future generations to let them know what was happening behind the scenes during WW2!

(PPS had a series for the past 2 years called Bletchley Circle that dealt with the women who had worked there during WW2 and meet up again in the early 50's to work cases for the police.)
dutyfree is offline  
Old Oct 6th, 2014, 12:43 PM
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I second this as an outstanding day trip. We did it back in 2007. They were still having only human guides and not audio. But ours was a woman who had worked there back then. Can't beat that kind of insight.
laurie_ann is offline  
Old Oct 6th, 2014, 01:10 PM
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Sounds amazing. I'm going to try to take my husband there one day because he is a veteran and loves military history.
sanderskn is offline  
Old Oct 6th, 2014, 03:04 PM
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"The irony of those who worked there was that they signed a "Secrets Act" with the UK government which stated that they could not tell anyone what they were doing or did during the war for 50 years. "

"Signing the Official Secrets Act" isn't - and wasn't - time-bound. Nor was Bletchley workers' commitment restricted to what they did during the war. Some work at Bletchley continued afterwards, and the OSA restrictions certainly applied (and still apply) to that period.

The OSAs (there were at least three binding during WW2) simply say that what's secret is secret - and lay down legal action that might be taken against those breaching secrecy (which can range from simple indiscipline to serious crimes of spying.) The requirement typically lasts a whole lifetime.

The irony is that the Bletchley culture meant its workers felt bound by the OSA even after Bletchley's role had become common knowledge. Thousands of workers are still alive (sometimes, it feels, all living within a mile or so of us.) All speak of the oddity of it now being accepted that they can talk about it - though, strictly speaking, the strictures of the Acts still apply.

Partly because of the odd anomaly that lots of non-combattants got medals for war work, but Bletchley was too secret to acknowledge, Bletchley workers were finally given a medal in 2009. This roughly marked the point where they began to discuss their work openly - which had the extraordinary result that many self-effacing "ordinary" (most of course were super-intelligent) men and women in their 80s and 90s suddenly became local heroes.

Interestingly (well to me, anyway), many public servants - including most Post Office counter assistants - still "sign the Act." Few - going on none - feel anything like as morally constrained as my elderly neighbours did. And as some still do.
flanneruk is offline  
Old Oct 6th, 2014, 05:48 PM
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And whilst there visit the computer museum, which receives no lottery money, but is responsible for Colossus. It is small and wonderfully amateur but absolutely worth the money.
hetismij2 is offline  
Old Oct 7th, 2014, 11:49 AM
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There's a new film about Alan Turing (The Imitation Game with Benedict Cucumberpatch), if you want some background to the story of Bletchley Park.
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Old Oct 8th, 2014, 04:17 PM
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Wow, you sure are lucky, Flanner, to have neighbors who are secretive and don't spill the beans and everything else on Facebook. We need more people like that !
Bedar is offline  
Old Oct 9th, 2014, 10:13 AM
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Dutyfree, thanks so much for posting this ~ it's something I hope to do 2015 and it's not often included in London itineraries here.
nyse is offline  
Old Oct 9th, 2014, 10:31 AM
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I very much enjoyed my visit to Bletchley Park. I later read a book called "The Secret Lives of Codebreakers," by Sinclair Mackay that I found very interesting.

I was pressed for time and spent only half a day there. I'd love to come back and spend a whole day.
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Old Oct 12th, 2014, 05:55 PM
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We also just visited this past summer and really enjoyed the tour. We took the one hour guided tour with a very informative guide as well. He spoke about not only Alan Turing but also a man named Tutt if I recall correctly.

Don't miss the National Museum of Computing which is very nearby. Both are a great place to visit.
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