On the 24th of May Bradford Academy took 17 Year 10 Computer Science learners to take part in a trip to Bletchley Park in Milton Keynes, the secret location of Britain’s top code breakers during WWII and the home of the National Museum of Computing.
The volunteers at Bletchley Park gave our students a walking tour of Bletchley Park teaching them about the history of the buildings as well as the fabulous reconstructions of the early computers including Colossus. We visited the numerous ‘huts’ where these geniuses worked day and night, trying to decipher various messages at an extremely rapid rate, as well as seeing the actual set of many scenes in the famous film, ‘The Imitation Game’, which was all about Alan Turing, the mathematician who decoded numerous messages in ‘Hut 8’.
As well as visiting the beautiful manor house and seeing some real ‘Bombe’ machines (devices cryptologists used to decipher German Enigma-machine codes), they learned about Alan Turing and the Enigma Code, and how the Lorenz codes were broken using the Tunny and Colossus.
Learners stood in the place where code breakers had stood when Winston Churchill visited to thank them for their valuable contribution to the war effort. He called Bletchley Park the ‘goose who laid the golden egg’ such was the value of the information they were able to decipher.
They were told about the difference between codes and ciphers and students then went on to do some code breaking of their own. Perhaps one of the most memorable parts of the day was actually using an Enigma machine – yes, it was an original Enigma machine.
The group then travelled into London to check in to a hotel, have an enjoyable evening meal and see all the major sights in London (London Eye, Houses of Parliament, Tower Bridge and The Shard) from the comfort of a river taxi along the Thames. For some of our students this was their first visit to London and they were both excited and overwhelmed by being in such a big city.
The next morning they were up early for breakfast before a visit to the London Science Museum to see some exhibitions about space, engineering for the future and the Information Age before returning back to Bradford Academy.
This was the first trip of its kind organised by the Computing department and will feature as an annual trip in our calendar for all year 10 Computer Science and ICT students.