Supported by the UK government’s Culture Recovery Fund, this new exhibition covers the events of 1938 to late 1939. Focusing on the team of early pioneers who set up the wartime codebreaking headquarters at Bletchley Park in the build-up to World War Two, this is a story of teamwork and ingenuity at a time of global challenge.
The exhibition is spread out over five sections in the Drawing Room in the historic Mansion, one of the first rooms to be used by the Codebreakers in autumn 1939.
Exhibition highlights include:
- A unique diagram of all 185 people who were working at Bletchley Park on Monday 4 September 1939, the day after war was declared, including famous names like Alan Turing and Gordon Welchman.
- The ‘Emergency List’ – for the first time, the names of the 114 men and women considered for possible work at GC&CS on the outbreak of war have been complied into one list. Includes famous names like J.R.R. Tolkien*, as well as less well-known female cryptanalysts such as Amy Marjorie Dale.
- Rare first-hand accounts of GC&CS’s 1938 evacuation to Bletchley Park, when war looked likely.
Incredibly rare photos of Bletchley Park taken in the early days of World War Two, showing actual codebreaking work as well as snapshots of staff off-duty.
- The 1937 sales catalogue with rare photos of the Mansion’s main rooms when the site was put up for sale by the Leon family.
- Historic maps that show how Bletchley Park was perfectly placed as a secluded countryside site still close to transport and telecommunication links to London and the rest of the UK.
*Tolkien was one of 117 academics and civilians who were selected for possible recruitment to Bletchley Park, and undertook a codebreaking training course in March 1939. He was not selected to work for GC&CS during the war, instead continuing as Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Pembroke College, Oxford, and writing The Lord of the Rings.