Bletchley Park Super Visit

On a cold Saturday in December I ventured up to Buckinghamshire for my first scholarship event, not knowing what secrets I would unveil.

On my arrival I was warmly welcomed by the event organisers and entered the once top secret manor and estate. After rounding the lake, where a number of secret romances flourished, I was presented with the impressive Victorian mansion, procured by the government for £6,000 back in 1939 to be the Government Code and Cypher School.

I met up with some fellow scholars, where we discussed our teacher training experiences so far. I was surprised by the range of experiences encountered and the different levels of teaching each scholar had had but everyone had some valuable words of advice.

We embarked on an hour-long guided tour, where our guide provided the history of why Bletchley Park was chosen, how they convinced Winston Churchill to provide more money for their important work and how even the locals were not aware of what was happening inside the estate.

I was amazed about the origins of the Enigma machine. The machine was originally developed for the commercial market to encrypt banking details for transmission between international banks. The German inventor even travelled to the United States to try to sell it. However, commercially it was a flop. We learnt how the Poles helped the British with their knowledge of the Enigma machine.

Although the Enigma codes could be broken, there was a need to decipher the messages quicker. Alan Turing and Gordon Welchman developed a machine to help solve this problem which was called The Bombe.

Next was a workshop with Thomas Briggs, who gave an entertaining introduction to encryption providing details of the simple Caesar cypher to the more complex Affine Shifts. The workshop gave me food for thought about how I may adapt some algebra and modulo (remainder) lessons to illustrate how these branches of maths have contributed to breaking codes.

Finally, we created of our own Enigma machine in the Blue Peter style with a Pringle Tube, scissors and glue.

We even had the chance to touch and use an Enigma machine, which was also used in the film The Imitation Game and touched by Benedict Cumberbach and Keira Knightley.

After the workshop I wandered around the estate visiting the huts to experience the cold and grim conditions that the codebreakers had to work in.

To those who created their own Enigma machine, I have the following message (use reflector B, Rotors I, II, and III and keyword IAM):


(Hope this works)

Rik Singleton