Station X

Tuesday, 19 July 2011
Bletchley Park, or Station X, is the historic site of the codebreaking centre which helped to secure a victory for the Allied Forces during World War II. It is asserted that were it not for "Station X" the war would have lasted for at least another two years. Winston Churchill himself called the codebreakers the "geese that laid the golden egg". And last Wednesday, I was fortunate enough to go and see where it all happened. For it being such a massive part of history, Bletchley Park appears to me a place that time forgot. Considering the nature of the work done at "Station X" was kept silent until the mid-1970s, I suppose this is understandable. And it wasn't until 2004 that Bletchley Park was opened as a public museum.

The Bletchley Park manor house

But before Bletchley Park was a code-breaking centre it had been a Victorian mansion belonging to a wealthy London financier. Originally an old farm-house, the eccentric style of the manor is due to the family's love of travelling. They would go abroad, find a house they liked the look of, and when they came back add an extension in that style. In looking at the manor house it is quite clear to see each of the different extensions, and although they are all quite different it does seem to work.

The working Bombe reconstruction
The codebreakers arrived at "Station X", as Bletchley Park became known, in August of 1939. The most famous of these workers, was Alan Turing, the head of the section for responsible for German cryptanalysis. Alan Turing developed a number of techniques for breaking the Germans ciphers, such as the bombe, a machine which allowed the codebreakers to decipher the Enigma machine (which the Germans believed to be uncrackable). Achievements such as these are what helped bring an end to World War II.

At the conclusion of the war, Churchill ordered that every scrap of evidence was destroyed. This is most likely due to the fact that England did not want their former ally the USSR to know of Bletchley Park's wartime accomplishments. Thankfully a number of photographs survived, and using these a number of working reconstructions of the machines have been created. I tried to make sense of these machines, but failed miserably.

Two days after my visit, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh came to unveil a memorial statue to the work done at Bletchley Park. The ceremony was attended by some of the surviving codebreakers and would explain why I saw a number of workers fervently painting sections of the property. It appears Bletchley Park is finally getting the recognition it deserves. 

Erin x

This post is dedicated to my Grandpa - who has probably read every book on World War II in existence and whom I thought of the entire time while at Bletchley Park. 

For more information on the history of Bletchley Park please visit the BBC History Page.


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