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Bletchley Park

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Bletchley Park

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Bletchley Park

The iconic status of the Bletchley Park codebreaking centre is surely not in doubt. It was here, at a Victorian mansion 50 miles north-west of London, that a disparate team of ingenious individuals, led by Alan Turing, worked on the problem of cracking the secret codes of the German armed forces during the second world war. In 1940, the infamously complex Enigma code was broken, and the Lorenz cipher was laid bare the following year.

The ability to understand the intercepted communications of the German High Command undoubtedly influenced the ultimate outcome of the war (shortening it by perhaps two years), although it was thought prudent not to act in any way that would let the enemy know we knew what they were saying. In 1991, Bletchley Park was about to be demolished by property developers when a campaign was got up to save it, and it is now a museum with a full programme of events through the tourist season.

Photo: Courtesy of Bletchley Park

NOMINATION 803 OF 1157

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Located just outside Milton Keynes is one of England’s most interesting establishments, Bletchley Park and is so for several reasons. Firstly, this was the ally’s central and sole WW2 code-breaking establishment (secretly designated 'Station X'). Secondly, some of the most notable mathematicians of the 20th century had postings here during the 40's. These being (to name a few) Alan Turing and Max Newman. Thirdly, and probably the most interesting, is that the worlds first computer 'Colossus' was installed here with an authentic rebuild currently viewable.

Paul Collins


I have to rain on the parade - the 'first computer' did not see the light at Bletchley Park. That honour belongs to the electronic binary logic Atanasoff-Berry Computer, completed 1942 at Iowa State University. Still the work done at Bletchley Park must be regarded as the British Manhattan Project. Cracking the Enigma code (with the Bombe machines) and the Lorenz code (with the Colossus machines) helped Britain survive the Battle of the Atlantic and the Allies to bring the whole sorry affair of WWII to an early conclusion. But humanity was not out of the woods yet... More here: http://www.bletchleypark.org.uk/content/machines.rhtm
David Tonhofer


The English Iconic status of Bletchley Park, is not its incredible historical significance, either in the history of computing nor the course of the Second World War. It is the spirit of the eccentric geniuses who lived and worked here. Recently, my partner donated an early mechanical calculating machine to the Bletchley Park collection. When we visited to deliver it, we found the place still full of mad-scientist types full of jolly enthusiasm and an infectious devotion to anything ingenious, willing to share and to learn. They had the pride without vanity that marks out British fair play.
Ruth Savage


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My nomination is the garden shed.

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