Bletchley Park Super Visit -
7 December 2019
I had not heard much about Bletchley Park before my visit, and despite being intrigued by the idea, was not at all looking forward to the long journey with the train strikes in the early hours of the morning! I reached the station too early to be greeted by the inflatable clownfish that I had anticipated to meet, but made it to the park with ample time to have a wander and see the artefacts displayed in and around the Visitor Centre.
Upon meeting the other scholars who were also ambitiously early like myself, we proceeded to wander around Block C, to have a look at the various displays of artefacts and certificates collected over the years. My first workshop was run by qualified mathematics teacher, Tom Briggs. This was centred on the Enigma machine, which was used to send messages by the Nazis in Germany during the Second World War. We were all sat in our festive gear, each holding an empty Pringles tube, and ridiculously overwhelmed by the fact that we were in the same room as the very Enigma machine used in The Imitation Game by Benedict Cumberbatch.
Our next thoughts were of course, “how on earth is this empty cardboard tube going to perform the same function as this old machine created over 70 years ago?”. Tom then proceeded to lead his workshop on Cryptography, whilst introducing some shocking numbers to enable us to put into perspective, the ways in which this one machine is able to perform so many functions. Following this insightful session, we then proceeded to the famous tour of Bletchley Park which many speak so fondly of. This was led by…well… he had many names throughout the course of the tour as he played the role of a variety of characters at Bletchley Park in the 1940s, but I think we started with a friendly, old chap named Andrew.
Andrew led us on a journey to discover the hidden corners of Bletchley Park, including the huts, cottages and the famous mansion. We were given a variety of different hats and props to really fulfil our roles of the interesting characters which Andrew brought upon us. The tour concluded at the memorial tower which read “We Also Served”. This was unveiled in 2011 by HM Queen Elizabeth to honour and recognise the work of the personnel who served at Bletchley Park during the war. This was a highly meaningful end to the day and also acted as a source of inspiration for the scholars to visit the gift shop in search of some more code breaking merchandise!
By Devaki Amin