Bletchley Park for me was the most interesting part of the time my comrades and I spent around the London Area. During World War II, Bletchley Park held thousands of workers who spent their time during the war with British intelligence, helping the Allied effort by working to decode messages that potentially held valuable information about the Germans. While away from the bright lights and fast-paced London atmosphere, the experience I received and knowledge I gained at the grounds of Bletchley still packed a thorough punch of excitement. At first sight of the grounds, I was reminded in some respects of Ohio State in its college-campus-like setup and similar styles of architecture. Beyond a small pond sits a mansion on the grounds. The architecture of the Park Mansion reminded me a lot of the buildings at Ohio State surrounding The Oval, most closely in comparison to University Hall (pictured bottom left). Even more so, the pond in front of the mansion made it a Mirror Lake-esque kind of moment at first sight for me. Seeing the mansion through the tree-line with the pond in front of the scene made for some really beautiful pictures (pictured upper right). The bright colors of the various trees and plants surrounding were accentuated by the cleared skies and the benefit of lots of rain in the area in the previous two days.
The mansion itself held an exhibit on Imitation Game, a movie detailing the code-breaking operations held at the park through the lens of Alan Turing, the park’s most notable and celebrated employee. Turing was key in lots of codebreaking efforts and aided in building the Bombe Machine. Aside from the mansion, the various huts definitely held some really cool historical value. In particular, Hut 8, one of the huts which the British Navy were in, held Alan Turing’s actual office. Being able to see the office of one of the Park’s greatest minds was a very cool historical connection to make. My favorite exhibit was the still-operational Bombe Machine the museum had on display (pictured lower right). The Bombe Machine was a piece of machinery used to decipher German codes, which held important intelligence messages regarding things like; troop movements, strategic information, and supplies and aid. While bulky and intricate with many connected wires and parts, for a man-made machine to be able to decipher codes of that magnitude of importance and number of combinations in the time period that it did is something unequivocally remarkable and irreplaceable to winning the war.
The most memorable part about Bletchley Park for me was realizing and noticing effect that inter-war Bletchley Park still has on the people who both work there and visit it now in the 21st century. The first place I went after entering the park was the mansion. There, being myself I guess, I struck up a conversation with a worker at the park named Paul. We talked for a few minutes, mainly about the geographical location of Ohio in relation to New York and Boston, but also about why he does what he does at Bletchley. Later in the day he even showed our group how to use an enigma machine, and even let me type in my own code to be decoded. Paul only works a Bletchley Park one day a week, but from the way he describes his job there, the one day he spends at the park per work week is his favorite one. He described coming to Bletchley as “getting away from the busyness and constant stress that comes with my job away from here.” I didn’t think to ask him what that other job was, though the intent was understood. It is so notable that almost eighty years after thousands of men and women came to this park to do something quite remarkable and directly affect the outcome of the war, a working man in one of the premier cities of the world all this time later could be affected as well. I thought that full-circle feeling was pretty cool. Paul taking a shift out of every week to help himself find peace, and to help visitors remember what happened here at Bletchley, speaks to the kind of place it was then, is now, and will continue to be.