Situated an hour north of London, is an inconspicuous estate close to Bletchley train station. A mansion and grounds, that was pivotal in the modern era of information technology and cloaked in secrecy. Bletchley Park is home of the code breakers in World War II, with its exceptional historical importance still relevant today.
The beginnings of Bletchley Park
The Mansion and grounds were purchased in 1938 by the head of the secret intelligence service, in the event of war. On the train link between Oxford and Cambridge and only 50 miles from London, it was a prime location to attract academics that the secret service would hope to hire. Bletchley was to be the new home of the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS).
Following the outbreak of war in 1939, Bletchley Park became home to the codebreakers. An elite specialist team with the aim of intercepting and interpreting any messages. At the height of espionage, numerous different coding machines were being used to communicate in secret. For months and months, the allies had no way of deciphering them. Tens of thousands of people worked at this park, in small and modest huts during the war.
One of the most notable residents of Bletchley was Alan Turing, regarded as the father of modern-day computers. Turing was fundamental in developing a machine that was capable of replicating and breaking the Engima and Lorenz codes used by the enemy. Turing’s work during and after the war was the breakthrough in computer science. His post-war life and death are full of prejudice and tragedy, especially for someone who has done so much.
Bletchley Park was not the only groundbreaking in what they achieved in shortening in the war and saving thousands of lives but also in the number of women who worked there. Numerous women were given the opportunity to progress into STEM subjects with dwindling numbers of men who had gone off to the war. Women with experience in mathematics, physics, engineering and languages. These trailblazers showed that anyone could have the right skills and make a difference.
Under the Secrets Act, most of what happened at Bletchley is a mystery, with many taking their secrets with them. We may never know the full extent of what happened and what was uncovered at Bletchley, but their hard work, patience and dedication saved many lives and secured the outcome of the war for the allies.