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Bletchley Park - A visit and a sketch

Bletchley Park 

Home of the World's first digital computer.

Sketch inspired by Bletchley Park. A3 sketchbook mixed media. To see the process scroll to the bottom of the page.


"On 18 September 1938, a small group of people moved into the Mansion under the cover story that they were a shooting party. They had an air of friends enjoying a relaxed weekend together at a country house. They even brought with them one of the best chefs from the Savoy Hotel to cook their food. Behind the cover were members of MI6 and the Government Code and Cypher School (GC & CS), a secret team including a number of scholars and academics turned Codebreakers. As tensions in Europe peaked, Admiral Sinclair, Director of GC & CS and SIS, had activated their War Station: Bletchley Park. The group’s job was to set up and run intelligence activity from Bletchley Park. They responded quickly, transmitting their first message at 6 pm on the day they arrived."

Enigma Machine - Thousands of these machines were used by German forces. When a letter was pressed on the keyboard, a system of rotating wheels and wires changed it to a different letter.

"Work began in the Mansion and its outbuildings, with a staff of around 150 people. As more and more people arrived to join the codebreaking operations, the various sections began to move into large pre-fabricated wooden huts set up on the lawns of the Park. For security reasons, the various sections were known only by their hut numbers. The first operational break into Enigma came around the 23 January 1940, when the team working under Dilly Knox, with the mathematicians John Jeffreys, Peter Twinn and Alan Turing, unravelled the German Army administrative key that became known at Bletchley Park as ‘The Green’. Encouraged by this success, the Codebreakers managed to crack the ‘Red’ key used by the Luftwaffe (German air force). In addition to German codes, Italian and later Japanese systems were also broken."

Alan Turing's Office. Hut 8. Turing took the lead on breaking naval Enigma cyphers - a huge task that was thought impossible. His mathematical skills enabled him to break many cyphers including th ecomplex Lorenz cipher where he used a method that became known at Turingery. Together with fellow codebreaker Gordon Weldman he developed the Bombe machine to help speed up the code breaking process.

"The world's first programmable digital computer was built in secret by the British in the Second World War at Bletchley Park. Bletchley is famous as the place where the Enigma cipher machine was broken: a task which they performed efficiently using a machine called a Bombe."

Alan Turing's teddy.

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