Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire, which was a key part of the UK’s war effort against Germany has been restored and is now ready for its new life as a tourist attraction.
Bletchley Park was the place where German Enigma codes were cracked using one of the first working computers – the Bombe machine.
The site fell into disrepair and reached the point two years ago where it was almost beyond salvage. But some after some painstaking restoration, and an official opening by the Duchess of Cambridge, Bletchley Park is now open to the public.
The Bletchley Park Trust was set up 22 years ago and began a race against time to save the mostly wooden structures, rapidly assembled in 1939. Plans for complete restoration began at the end of 2011 when the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded the trust a £5 million grant and work began in 2012 after £2.4m was raised.
It was just as well that it did, some of the huts were about to fall down and if the work had not been completed by last January’s storms, the huts could have been lost altogether.
Huts 3 and 6, where much of the codebreaking work happened, are now restored and offer a glimpse of Bletchley’s past.
Former Bletchley Park worker Sheila Lawn told the BBC how she was impressed with how Bletchley has been preserved. Since there were no photographs of the insides to work with, Bletchley Park asked veterans like Lawn for their memories.
It means that visitors can see what each building looked like during the war – right down to the correct paint colour, thanks to a specialist historic paint analysis company.