Original blueprints and components of Alan Turing’s Bombe machines are amongst the star exhibits in a new permanent exhibition Hut 11A: The Bombe Breakthrough that has opened today. Housed in a newly restored wartime building at Bletchley Park, the display features a working Bombe model and delivers new insight into the technological codebreaking advances made during World War Two.
Standing in a space that originally housed some of the Bombe machines at the secret wartime site, the interactive display includes the first ever replica of the Polish Bomba machine – unseen since WW2 – and an exploration of the contribution that Polish codebreakers made to cracking Enigma.
Sir John Dermot Turing, Trustee of the Bletchley Park Trust and nephew of Alan Turing, said: “When you think about WW2 and machines you tend to think about the development of things like radar. We very rarely think about the secret machines, but the big challenge of the second world war was how to read the German enemy’s messages. The Allies had to come up with a mechanical method of whizzing through, as fast as possible, the permutations of the Enigma machine. It’s very exciting to be able to have a new exhibition at Bletchley Park about Bombe machines that is actually in the building in which they were operated.”
Hut 11A: The Bombe Breakthrough is the first major new gallery to be opened at the heritage site since 2014 and will help the museum’s 250,000 annual visitors understand one of the key developments of World War Two. The permanent display explains the challenge presented by the Nazi’s Enigma system and how the group of Allied codebreakers based at Bletchley Park devised a machine to crack it. For the first time, visitors will also be able to find out about how the machines were built and maintained.
Iain Standen, CEO of the Bletchley Park Trust, said: “It is exciting for us to be able to open another new exhibition for our visitors to enjoy. As a museum, we never stand still, and our brilliant exhibitions team have delivered a first-class exhibition that will offer a real insight into the story of the Bombe machines. Located as it is in recently restored Hut 11A, the wartime home of the Bombe machines at Bletchley Park, this exhibition uses engaging and innovative interpretation to tell this fascinating story.”
Peronel Craddock, Head of Collections and Exhibitions at Bletchley Park, said: “It has taken over two years to pull together the research and insight that forms the backbone of this engaging new exhibition. We are thrilled that visitors will be able to learn about aspects of the Enigma challenge that have not been explored before, including the contribution of the Polish codebreakers and how different types of Bombe machine were devised and built.”
In addition to a working replica of the Turing-Welchman Bombe, visitors can also see a recreation of the Polish Bomba machine in action. Donated by the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in London, the Bomba helps tell the early part of the Enigma story and how the work carried out by Polish codebreakers was crucial to the success of the Allies’ intelligence effort.
Arkady Rzegocki, the Polish Ambassador, said: “We are happy to present a replica of Marian Rejewski’s Bomba: the Polish decrypting machine which was first to crack the early Enigma codes in the 1930s. We really appreciate that Bletchley Park is honouring Polish cryptographers and showing the contribution of the Polish School of Mathematics to the works of Alan Turing.”
Entrance to Hut 11A: The Bombe Breakthrough is included in the main ticket price, which offers free unlimited visits for 12 months. To find out more about visiting Bletchley Park, go to www.bletchleypark.org.uk
The exhibition has been made possible by support from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport with monies from the Libor Banking Fines.