[Nottingham] Bletchley Park - FINAL EMAIL

Martin martin at ml1.co.uk
Mon Sep 10 18:00:49 UTC 2012

> Meet at Bletchley Park for 1030.
> Any issues - just call.
> See you there!

What a blazingly good day!

Well... Some of us were 'keen' and so we were there in the queue for
when the gates opened at 9:30am. Various en-route txts then coordinated
our meet up over coffee and tea ready for the first tour at 11am.

It was a blazing good day and good fun! Did Chris manage ever make it
out before the gates closed? Or is he still lost somewhere in the
basement of Block B??

I was nearly locked in the RSGB amateur (Ham) radio station GB3RS as it
was being shut down for the day... Apparently, the station and displays
have only recently been relocated from central London to Bletchley in
July this year. They have a very good setup with some good hands-on
equipment, some old historical stuff, and the latest state-of-the-art
transceivers as witnessed by the various terrestrial and satellite
aerials festooned around Station X.

... And then the more mundane mobile smartphone digital transceiver came
to life for the regrouping in the car park to make our timely escape...

We also enjoyed some good summertime weather that made for a very
pleasant wander around the grounds and the various huts and stables.

The wartime effort there was certainly impressive with a cypher
disassembly line spanning up towards 9000 staff + yet more in various
outposts. Further expansion was limited by concerns to not overrun the
available local services and for remaining clandestine! Also impressive
is the volunteer effort today that has brought Bletchley Park back to
life. The 'ultra' secrecy surrounding the site meant that it was nearly
bulldozed to disappear forever under housing. The site was only rescued
due to a conservation order placed on a number of trees on the site!
Only some years later was the significance of the site ultimately revealed.

The rebuilding of a working Bombe and Colossus, each taking over a
decade of re-engineering, are must-see pioneering marvels from the time.
They are similarly epic to the Science Museum's Babbage's Difference
Engine No 2, but also they go somewhat beyond with the added complexity
of electric/electronic circuitry and myriad connections...
Elecro-Electronic-Mechanical marvels! And you get to see them working.
With all the heat generated, and multiple machines crammed in, plus
operators, plus the operators likely chain-smoking and always under
pressure of time, and no windows, no wonder one of the huts was
nick-named "Hell".

Just a very few of the surrounding wartime stories are included but that
still gives good context for the driving war effort.

All quite a feat all round.

Poor Eva in the group was put on the spot for translating the same
repeating daily message for some lonesome Africa German outpost that the
Allies very deliberately kept undisturbed... That one location must have
been the safest but most boring place to be posted to for the entire war.

Another deliberate curiosity was the Czech in-the-middle-of-nowhere
posting that was of no strategic interest whatsoever that 'happened' to
have one bomb dropped on it. It also happened to uniquely have a few
"z"s in its the name...

And lots more. Too much to cover all in just one day.

Thanks to Jason for organising a very good day. And thanks for the
txt-ing coordinating to sheep-dog us all together!

And thanks are due to the volunteers we met at Bletchley that make it
all enthusiastically and very knowledgeably work very well.

Where next?

(We noticed some signs to the Leicester Space Centre... ;-) )


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