Bletchley Park

Infobox Museum
name = Bletchley Park

imagesize = 200
caption = During World War II, codebreakers at Bletchley Park decrypted and interpreted messages from a large number of Axis code and cipher systems, including the German Enigma machine. For this purpose, the Bletchley Park mansion, pictured here, was soon joined by a host of other buildings. The mansion's façade is an idiosyncratic mix of architectural styles.
map_type =
map_caption =
latitude = 51.997
longitude = -0.742
established = Start date|1992|02|13
dissolved =
location = Bletchley, Milton Keynes, England
type =
visitors =
director = Simon Greenish
curator =
publictransit =
website =

Bletchley Park, also known as Station X, is an estate located in the town of Bletchley, in Buckinghamshire, and (since 1967) part of Milton Keynes, England. During World War II, Bletchley Park was the location of the United Kingdom's main codebreaking establishment. Codes and ciphers of several Axis countries were deciphered there, most importantly those of the German Enigma and Lorenz machines. The high-level intelligence produced by Bletchley Park, codenamed Ultra, is frequently credited with aiding the Allied war effort and shortening the war, although Ultra's effect on the actual outcome of WWII is debated.

Bletchley Park is now a museum and is open to the public. The main Manor house is also available for functions and is licensed for ceremonies. A good part of the fees for hiring the facilities are paid to the fund, and is another way that support can be given to the Trust.

Early history

The lands of the Bletchley Park estate were formerly part of the Manor of Eaton, included in the Domesday Book in 1086. Browne Willis built a mansion in 1711, but this was pulled down by Thomas Harrison, who had acquired the property in 1793. The estate was first known as Bletchley Park during the ownership of Samuel Lipscomb Seckham, who purchased it in 1877. The estate was sold on 4 June 1883 to Sir Herbert Samuel Leon (1850–1926), a financier and Liberal MP. Leon expanded the existing farmhouse into the present mansion. [Edward Legg, "Early History of Bletchley Park 1235–1937", Bletchley Park Trust Historic Guides series, No. 1, 1999]

The architectural style is a mixture of Victorian Gothic, Tudor and Dutch Baroque and was the subject of much bemused comment from those who worked there, or visited, during World War II. Leon's estate covered 581 acres (235 hectares), of which Bletchley Park occupied about 55 acres (22 ha). Leon's wife, Fanny, died in 1937, [ [ Valentin Foss "Bletchley Park"] ] and in 1938 the site was sold to a builder, who was about to demolish the mansion and build a housing estate. Just in time, Admiral Sir Hugh Sinclair, (Director of Naval Intelligence, head of MI6 and founder of the Government Code and Cypher School) bought the site with his own money (£7,500), having failed to persuade any government department to pay for it. [cite book |last= Smith |first= Michael|title= Station X: The Codebreakers of Bletchley Park|origdate= 1998|publisher= Channel 4 Books|isbn= 978-0752221892 |pages= page 20 ] The fact that Sinclair, and not the Government, owned the site was not widely known until 1991 when the site was nearly sold for redevelopment. The first government visitors to Bletchley Park described themselves as "Captain Ridley's shooting party".

The estate was conveniently located on the "Varsity Line" (now largely closed) between the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, which supplied many of the codebreakers, at its junction with the main West Coast railway line from London. It was also chosen for its proximity to a major road (the A5) to London and to a route for telephone trunk lines.

Wartime history

Just before war broke out Biuro Szyfrów revealed Poland's achievements on decrypting German Enigma codes to British intelligence. The British used the information given to them by Poland as a basis for their own attempts to decrypt German Enigma signals. The "first wave" of the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) moved to Bletchley Park on 15 August 1939. The main body of GC&CS, including its Naval, Military and Air Sections was on the ground floor of the house, together with a telephone exchange, a teleprinter room, a kitchen and a dining room for all the staff. The top floor was allocated to MI6. The prefabricated wooden huts were still being erected, and initially the entire "shooting party" was crowded into the existing house, its stables and cottages. These were too small, so Elmers School, a neighbouring boys' boarding school was acquired for the Commercial and Diplomatic Sections [Smith, 1998 page 2-3] .

A wireless room was set up in the mansion's water tower and given the code name "Station X", [Bob Watson, "How the Bletchley Park Buildings Took Shape", Appendix in F. H. Hinsley & A. Stripp, "Codebreakers: The Inside Story of Bletchley Park", 1993] a term now sometimes applied to the codebreaking efforts at Bletchley as a whole. The "X" simply denotes the number "10" in Roman numerals, as this was the tenth such station to be opened. Due to the long radio aerials stretching from the wireless room, the radio station was moved from Bletchley Park to nearby Whaddon to avoid drawing attention to the site. [ "The Secrets of Bletchley Park - Souvenir Guide", Bletchley Park Trust, 2nd edition, 2003] [cite book |last= Pidgeon |first= Geoffrey |title= Station X - The Secret Wireless War |origdate= 2003 |publisher= Universal Publishing Solutions Online Ltd |isbn= 978-1843752523]

Listening stations – the Y-stations (such as the ones at Chicksands in Bedfordshire and Beaumanor Hall in Leicestershire, the War Office "Y" Group HQ) – gathered raw signals for processing at Bletchley. Coded messages were taken down by hand and sent to Bletchley on paper by motorcycle couriers or, later, by teleprinter. Bletchley Park is mainly remembered for breaking messages enciphered on the German Enigma cypher machine, but its greatest cryptographic achievement may have been the breaking of the German "Fish" High Command teleprinter cyphers.

The intelligence produced from decrypts at Bletchley was code-named "Ultra". It contributed greatly to the Allied success in defeating the U-boats in the Battle of the Atlantic, and to the British naval victories of Battle of Cape Matapan and the Battle of North Cape.

When the United States joined the war Churchill agreed with Roosevelt to pool resources and a number of American cryptographers were posted to Bletchley Park. Whilst the British continued to work on German cyphers, the Americans concentrated on the Japanese ones.

The only direct action that the site experienced was when three bombs, thought to have been intended for Bletchley railway station, were dropped on 20 November21 November 1940. One bomb exploded next to the dispatch riders' entrance, shifting the whole of Hut 4 (the Naval Intelligence hut) two feet on its base. As the huts stood on brick pillars, workmen just winched it back into position whilst work continued inside.

An outpost of Bletchley Park was set up at Kilindini, Kenya, to break and decipher Japanese codes. [ [ ] ] With a mixture of skill and good fortune, this was successfully done: the Japanese merchant marine suffered 90 per cent losses by August 1945, a result of decrypts.

After the war, Churchill referred to the Bletchley staff as "My geese that laid the golden eggs and never cackled." [Douglas J. Hall, " [ History Lives at Ditchley and Bletchley] ".]


Most of the messages subjected to cryptanalysis at BP were enciphered with some variation of the Enigma cipher machine.

From 1943, Colossus, one of the earliest digital electronic computers, was constructed in order to break the German teleprinter on-line Lorenz cipher known as Tunny. Colossus was designed and built by Tommy Flowers and his team at the Post Office Research Station at Dollis Hill. The Colossus series of machines, of which there were ten by the end of the war, were operated at Bletchley Park in a section named the Newmanry after its head Max Newman.

Some 9,000 people were working at Bletchley Park at the height of the codebreaking efforts in January 1945,Smith, 1998, pp. 175-176] and over 10,000 worked there at some point during the war. Among the famous mathematicians and cryptanalysts working there, perhaps the most influential and certainly the best-known in later years was Alan Turing. A number of Bletchley Park employees were recruited for various intellectual achievements, whether they were chess champions, crossword experts, polyglots or great mathematicians. In one, now well known instance, the ability to solve "The Daily Telegraph" crossword in under 12 minutes was used as a recruitment test. The newspaper was asked to organise a crossword competition, after which each of the successful participants was contacted and asked if they would be prepared to undertake "a particular type of work as a contribution to the war effort". The competition itself was won by F H W Hawes of Dagenham who finished the crossword in less than eight minutes. [The Daily Telegraph, [ "25000 tomorrow"] 23 May 2006]

After the war

At the end of the war, much of the equipment used and its blueprints were destroyed. Although thousands of people were involved in the decoding efforts, the participants remained silent for decades about what they had done during the war, and it was only in the 1970s that the work at Bletchley Park was revealed to the general public. After the war, the site belonged to several owners, including British Telecom, the Civil Aviation Authority [ [ BellaOnline "Britain's Best Ket Secret"] ] and PACE (Property Advisors to the Civil Estate). GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters), the post-war successor organisation to GC&CS, ended training courses at Bletchley Park in 1987.

The local headquarters for the GPO was based here and housed all the engineers for the local area together with all the support they needed. The Eastern Region training school was also based in the park and later part of the national BT management college which was relocated here from Horwood House. There was also a teacher-training college.

By 1991, the site was nearly empty and the buildings were at risk of demolition for redevelopment. On 10 February 1992, Milton Keynes Borough Council declared most of the Park a conservation area. Three days later, on 13 February 1992, the Bletchley Park Trust was formed to maintain the site as a museum devoted to the codebreakers. The site opened to visitors in 1993, with the museum officially inaugurated by HRH the Duke of Kent, as Chief Patron, in July 1994. On 10 June 1999 the Trust concluded an agreement with the landowner, giving control over much of the site to the Trust. [ [ Bletchley Park Trust "Bletchley Park History"] ]

The Trust is volunteer-based and relies on public support to continue its efforts. Christine Large was appointed Director of the Trust in March 1998. On 1 March 2006, the Park Trust announced that Simon Greenish had been appointed Director Designate, and would work alongside Large in 2006, [ [ Bletchley Park® Trust Appoints Director Designate] , Bletchley Park News, 1 March 2006] taking over on 1 May 2006.

In October 2005, American billionaire Sidney Frank donated £500,000 to Bletchley Park Trust to fund a new Science Centre dedicated to Alan Turing. [ [ Action This Day] , Bletchley Park News, 28 February 2006]

A team headed by Tony Sale has undertaken a reconstruction of a Colossus computer in H block. [ [ Tony Sale "The Colossus Rebuild Project"] ] Another team has undertaken a rebuild of the bombe, led by John Harper. [ [ John Harper "The British Bombe" ] ] On 6 September 2006, the Trust demonstrated [ [,,1866516,00.html The Guardian "Back in action at Bletchley Park, the black box that broke the Enigma code."] ] that the Bombe was back in action.

In April 2008 the General Manager of the Radio Society of Great Britain announced that they were moving the Society's "public headquarters" (library, radio station, museum and bookshop) to Bletchley Park. [cite journal | title=Relocation Update | journal=RadCom | author=Peter Kirby, GoTWW | month=May | year=2008 | volume=84 |issue=05|pages=06 | publisher=Radio Society of Great Britain ] The RSGB intented to open the "RSGB Pavilion" in Bletchley Park in late summer to early autumn 2008. However the building allocated to them was beyond economical repair and there are proposals for the construction of a new building within Bletchley Park. [cite journal | title=Bletchley Park Latest | journal=RadCom | month=October | year=2008 | volume=84 |issue=10|pages=06 | publisher=Radio Society of Great Britain ]

In May 2008 it was announced that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation turned down a request for funds because the foundation only funds Internet-based technology projects. Since Bletchley Park receives no external funding, they are in dire need of financial support. Simon Greenish, the Bletchley Park Trust's director said:

We are just about surviving. Money—or lack of it—is our big problem here. I think we have two to three more years of survival, but we need this time to find a solution to this. [ [,1000002003,39415278,00.htm ZDNet "Bletchley Park Faces Bleak Future"] ]

On 24 July 2008 more than 100 academics signed a letter to The Times condemning the neglect being suffered by the site. [ [ The Times "Letters" "Saving the heritage of Bletchley Park"] ] [ [ BBC News "Neglect of Bletchley condemned"] ] In September 2008, PGP, IBM and other technology firms announced a fund-raising campaign to repair the facility. [ [ PGP, IBM help Bletchley Park raise funds] ]


The huts were designated by numbers; in some cases, the hut numbers became associated as much with the work which went on inside the buildings as with the buildings themselves. Because of this, when a section moved from a hut into a larger building, they were still referred to by their "Hut" code name.

Some of the hut numbers, and the associated work, are:

* "Hut 1" – the first hut, built in 1939 [ [ Tony Sale "Bletchley Park Tour", Tour 3] ]
* "Hut 3" – intelligence: translation and analysis of Army and Air Force Enigma decrypts
* "Hut 4" – Naval intelligence: analysis of Naval Enigma decrypts
* "Hut 6" – Cryptanalysis of Army and Air Force Enigma [cite book | author=Gordon Welchman | title=The Hut Six Story: Breaking the Enigma Codes| year=1982 | publisher=Allen Lane (London) & , McGraw-Hill (New York)| isbn=0713912944 ]
* "Hut 7" – Cryptanalysis of Japanese naval codes [ F. H. Hinsley and Alan Stripp, eds. "Codebreakers: The Inside Story of Bletchley Park", Oxford University Press, 1993] [Norman Scott, “Solving Japanese Naval Ciphers 1943 – 45”, Cryptologia, , Vol 21(2), April 1997, pp149–157]
* "Hut 8" – Cryptanalysis Naval Enigma
* "Hut 10" – Meteorological section [David Kahn, 1991, "Seizing the Enigma", pp. 189-190]
* "Hut 11" – The first Bombe building [ [ Tony Sale "Bletchley Park Tour", Tour 4] ]
* "Hut 14" – main teleprinter building [ [ Beaumanor & Garats Hay Amateur Radio Society "The operational huts"] ]

In popular culture

*Bletchley came to wider public attention from the 1999 documentary series "Station X". [ [ Station X (1999) (TV) ] ]
*Bletchley featured heavily in "Enigma" and its 2001 film adaptation
*The BBC Radio 4 sitcom "Hut 33" is also set at Bletchley. [ [ BBC Radio 4 - Comedy - Hut 33 ] ]
*The ITV television serial "Danger UXB" featured the character Steven Mount who was a codebreaker at Bletchley, and was driven to a nervous breakdown (and eventual suicide) by the stressful and repetitive nature of the work.
*A fictionalized version of Bletchley Park is featured in the novel "Cryptonomicon" by Neal Stephenson.

ee also

* List of people associated with Bletchley Park
* Newmanry
* Testery
* Y-stations
* Arlington Hall
* National Cryptologic Museum
* Danesfield House
* Beeston Regis, Norfolk Chapter on the Y Station on Beeston Bump
* Wireless Experimental Centre operated by the Intelligence Corps outside Delhi


Further reading

* Ted Enever, "Britain's Best Kept Secret: Ultra's Base at Bletchley Park", 3rd edition, 1999, ISBN 0750923555.
* F. H. Hinsley and Alan Stripp, eds. "Codebreakers: The Inside Story of Bletchley Park", Oxford University Press, 1993, ISBN 0198203276.
* Christine Large, "Hijacking Enigma: The Insider's Tale", 2003, ISBN 0470863463.
* Hugh Sebag-Montefiore, "Enigma: the Battle for the Code", London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2000, ISBN 9780471490357.
* Michael Smith, "Station X", Channel 4 Books, 1998. ISBN 0330419293 or ISBN 0752221892
* Doreen Luke's - [ My Road to Bletchley Park]
* Peter Hilton, " [ Reminiscences of Bletchley Park, 1942-1945] ", "AMS History of Mathematics, Volume 1: A Century of Mathematics in America", AMS, Providence, RI, 1988,

External links

* [ Bletchley Park Trust]
* [ Bletchley Park — Virtual Tour] — by Tony Sale
* [ Telecoms at Bletchley Park]
* [ Photographs, history, maps and other information about Bletchley Park]
* [ The National Museum of Computing (based at Bletchley Park)]
* [ "New hope of saving Bletchley Park for nation"] (Daily Telegraph 3 March 1997)
* [ 2366 (Bletchley Park)ATC Squadron]
* [ BBC Radio 4 programme "Hut 33"] - June 2007 Sitcom by James Cary, set in Bletchley Park in 1941.
* [ A photographic tour of the disused Enigma buildings at Bletchley Park]
* [ Bletchley Park - Where the World as we know begun]
* [ Tony Sale, The Enigma of Bletchley Park]
* [ UK residents e-petition to Save Bletchley Park.]
* [ International e-petition to Save Bletchley Park.]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Bletchley Park — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Mansión de Bletchley Park. Este era el lugar donde los mensajes cifrados por la máquina Enigma eran descifrados. Bletchley Park es el nombre de una instalación militar localizada en Buckinghamshire, Inglaterra en la… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Bletchley Park — es el nombre de una instalación militar localizada en Inglaterra en la que se realizaron los trabajos de descifrado de códigos alemanes durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Recibe su nombre de la mansión victoriana que domina el enclave. La primera …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Bletchley Park — Das Herrenhaus (engl.: The mansion) von Bletchley Park (2002) war die Zentrale der britischen Codeknacker und ist heute ein Museum Bletchley Park (Abkürzung: BP) ist der Name eines Landsitzes in der englischen Stadt Bletchley im Bezirk (engl.:… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Bletchley Park — 51° 59′ 47″ N 0° 44′ 34″ W / 51.9965, 0.74276 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • List of people associated with Bletchley Park — This is a list of people associated with Bletchley Park (the British codebreaking establishment), notable either for their achievements there or elsewhere.Work at or for Bletchley Park is given first, followed by achievements elsewhere in… …   Wikipedia

  • Bletchley and Fenny Stratford — is a civil parish with a town council, in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, England. It was formed in 2001 from the unparished area of Milton Keynes, and according to the 2001 census had a population of 13,971.The parish includes Brickfields… …   Wikipedia

  • Bletchley (disambiguation) — Bletchley may refer to:*Bletchley, Milton Keynes, in Buckinghamshire *Bletchley, Shropshireee also*Bletchley Park …   Wikipedia

  • Bletchley — infobox UK place country = England latitude= 51.994 longitude= 0.732 population= 33,950 [cite web | url = mode=cube… …   Wikipedia

  • Bletchley — 52.011111111111 0.75 …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • West Bletchley — is a district and civil parish[1] that covers the western part of Bletchley, a constituent town of Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire, England. The parish covers that part of Bletchley that is south of Standing Way (A421), west of the West Coast… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”