Family of Alan Turing Visit Bletchley Park

  |  Published: Feb 9th 2015


Poignant tour shows codebreaking genius’s family his legacy

More than twenty members of Codebreaker Alan Turing’s family visited Bletchley Park on Sunday 8 February. Seventy three years after the famous mathematician worked at Bletchley Park, his relatives paid a poignant visit to the World War Two codebreaking centre in tribute to his work and legacy. For some family members, it was the first time they had seen Alan Turing’s office in the iconic Codebreaking Hut 8 he headed up, the Cottages within which he worked in the Stableyard and Huts 11 and 11A which housed Turing’s brainchild, the Bombe machines he developed with fellow Codebreaker, Gordon Welchman.

Sir John Dermot Turing, nephew of Alan and Bletchley Park Trustee, spoke about the exciting plan to breathe life into the newly-restored, but currently empty, Hut 11A to tell the story of the development of its wartime, electro-mechanical residents, the Turing-Welchman Bombe machines. He also discussed opportunities to get involved with the project by supporting fundraising activities. Sir John Dermot Turing said "It was tremendously exciting for us as a family to look around Bletchley Park and absorb the atmosphere in which our famous relative achieved so much for the nation and for the future of technology. We were particularly delighted to be able to help raise awareness of the need for further restoration of Bletchley Park, which will inspire future generations by telling the incredible story of what happened here."

Alan Turing’s life and work are the subject of the multi-Oscar nominated hit film, The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley. While at Bletchley Park, Turing family members also visited THE IMITATION GAME, The Exhibition, open until October 2015 in the very rooms where pivotal scenes were filmed.



Together Alan Turing and his fellow Bletchley Park Codebreaker Gordon Welchman, who was Head of Hut 6, devised the Bombe machine, an electro mechanical device which greatly helped speed up the process of finding the daily-changing settings on hundreds of Enigma networks.

The development of this state of the art technology was a huge breakthrough in the battle to crack the Nazis’ encrypted messages, helping the Government Code and Cypher School to glean vital intelligence while it was still operationally relevant.

The first Bombes were housed in Huts 11 and 11A at Bletchley Park. Hut 11A has recently undergone restoration, readying it to house a redeveloped interpretation of the Bombe and Enigma - telling the story of these two machines which made history.

During WW2 the Hut 11 complex, comprising Huts 11, 11A and 11A, housed the Bombe Section. The significance of the development of the Bombe and the expansion of the Bombe Section should not be underestimated. This process of mechanisation was the first such innovation at Bletchley Park, and paved the way for further such developments such as the the machine ‘Heath Robinson’, and subsequently Colossus which helped to break the Lorenz cipher.

The Bombe Section, like so many departments, expanded considerably and did so rapidly, eventually running more than 250 machines. As the numbers began to increase the Bombes were housed not at Bletchley Park but in various outstations, leaving the Bletchley Park unit in Hut 11a to concentrate on control, communications, and testing.

The Bombe Rebuild is on display and demonstrated daily at Bletchley Park so that visitors can see what the machine actually looked and sounded like and to find out how it helped find the settings on the Enigma machine.  In the proposed new development of Hut 11A, the plan is to tell the story of the Bombe in detail and it will be fitting to do that in the place where the Bombes were actually housed during WW2.

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