Last week we were lucky enough to be invited to Bletchley Park by McAfee who have a Cyber Security Exhibition within the main building.
I probably spent half my childhood locked in a book that related to the war in some way, romanticising a difficult period of history into something that seemed exhilarating and exciting. Even so, Bletchley has captured my imagination since I first heard about it to the extent that when I first found myself stood in the wartime brick bunkers that house the exhibitions, I narrowly avoided crying.
It is JUST AMAZING to be able to be there, the place that probably played a greater part in keeping England free and safe than anywhere else, somewhere so secret and essential that no one could know about it at all. I’m still enough of a romantic that standing there, it felt possible to reach out and touch the hurrying, hunched figures of men and women with the world on their shoulders, the camaraderie and frustrations of close, pressured work, the fear and the excitement that must have buzzed about the place as codes were broken or a new turn of the dial threw dust in their faces.
It’s impossible not to be humbled by it.
It’s extraordinary to imagine that my own bright, Aspergers minded husband or daughter might have answered the crossword challenge, only to be hustled secretly into a world that would have tested his or her brain every day and night. I could imagine Maddy or Amelie, clear eyes and methodical, bent over strips of code, sorting them, working through them, hurrying strips of paper to another hut, gathering work biked in from listening stations across the country.
What they achieved is breath taking. That they ground through an ever changing puzzle of monstrous complexity by hand, with the most basic of computer type technology seems astounding. Modern day technology would be stretched, modern day working ethics most certainly would.
It’s a beautifully told story, set up creatively with interactive areas, noises that are disconcertingly realistic built into the environment and clever touches to make it real.
The Post Office. Letters sent out, posted from every post box, a few at a time on the route back to London. Seems almost laughably naive now but back then, with no google maps (and not ever a signpost!) it would have covered the trail nicely.
We were taken on a tour by a knowledgeable guide; I highly recommend it, it really brought the place to life.
I can’t recommend the day highly enough, the perfect blend of history and science (read about our visit to the McAfee displays and cyber safety workshop on MerrilyMe) and – as Bletchley itself pointed out nicely, it was chosen for its convenient and central location, so you have no excuse not to visit.
We loved it.
Disclosure: we were invited to Bletchley Park free of charge. Opinions and effusive over emotional excitement are all my own.