Visiting Bletchley Park

A couple of weeks ago, on the way home from a family birthday celebration, we passed signs for Bletchley Park, the wartime home of the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS). I was very excited to go, as I’d read about it on and off for since the mid-1990s, starting with Robert Harris’s excellent “Enigma”. I’d also seen the film “The Imitation Game” and read a biography of Alan Turing.

My children (6 and 9) enjoyed the day, but were grateful for the interactive guides on mobile-phone sized devices, with headphones, which kept them engaged with games and commentary. These somewhat eclipsed the paper-based spy packs we’d also picked up. There was some children’s outdoor play equipment, but not for very small children.

There was a large cafe, and a few catering vans and kiosks for coffee and ice cream. Prices were fairly high, and no gluten-free options, although staff were receptive to feedback. We went on a particularly pleasant summer’s day, just as a heatwave was building, so ate outside.

I think I was probably expecting what’s now instead housed in the National Museum of Computing (sadly closed on the day we went), in the shape of a rebuilt Colossus computer. I very much enjoyed looking at the exhibits, which majored on the work at Bletchley Park during wartime, and lots on the human side of those working at the site (up to 10,000 by the end of the war).