A dank, damp smell fills the air as people tip-toe around pigeon skeletons and huge holes developing in the wooden floors – Bletchley Park’s historic codebreaking huts have certainly seen better days.
But thanks to a £7.4 million Heritage Lottery grant, they are set to be brought back from the brink and restored to their former glory.
In June 2012, The Bletchley Park Trust announced it had successfully raised £2.4 million to unlock £5 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund to develop Huts 3 and 6 while making Block C the new visitors’ centre.
With work getting under way in April, the plan is to unveil the completed work in June 2014 to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
Iain Standen, chief executive of the Bletchley Park Trust, said the historic changes are essential to protect the heritage of the site.
“We don’t want to turn it into a theme park,” he said. “But we want to make it feel like it would have back in the 1940s, so it’s about finding a balance of the two.
“We are looking to the future and how we can remember the incredible work carried out at Bletchley Park, and this is just the first part of it.
Getting the historically secretive Bletchley Park back to the way it looked during the Second World War is no mean feat, but pictures and veterans’ evidence is helping the architects plan what to do, right down to the colours of the walls and the type of flooring to use.
It’s hoped the project will help Bletchley Park become one of the country’s premier heritage attractions.
Mr Standen added: “All the fixtures and fittings will be put back in as close as we can to the 1940s fixture and fittings that were used here. As best we can, we’ll try to uncover the materials that were used.
“We aim to replicate the Second World War feeling as much as we can, and where we can source the original material we will.”
Stephen Prowse, Associate Director of the appointed Project Management company Appleyards (Artelia), said: “The interest in Bletchley Park and its contribution to the Second World War, Codebreaking and computing appears to be insatiable.
“From a Project Management point of view the Codebreaking Huts present the biggest challenge, as they are basically 70-year-old garden sheds thrown up during the war which are now listed and have not had a great deal of maintenance over the years.
“The aim is to repair and conserve the Huts to then fit out them out with an exhibition to reflect the very busy, difficult and exciting conditions the Codebreakers worked in.”