Bletchley Park links up with The Times Cheltenham Science Festival

GCHQ AND BLETCHLEY PARK will be joining forces and inviting the public to take part in a unique recreation of the wartime codebreaking process at this year’s Times Cheltenham Science Festival from 12-17 June.

These activities will form part of the celebrations marking the centenary of the birth of Alan Turing.

For the first time, members of the public will be invited to encrypt a message on one of GCHQ’s Enigma machines at the Town Hall, before it is sent to Bletchley Park, home of the wartime codebreakers.

Once at Bletchley Park, the message will be decrypted with the help of the Turing Bombe Rebuild and the decoded message ‘tweeted’ back. The whole event will be live and interactive using a two-way Skype videoconference, ensuring that members of the public in both Cheltenham and Bletchley Park can see every part of the encryption/decryption process.

Further interest will be added during the weekend, when the Cheltenham Amateur Radio Association will transmit the encrypted messages to Bletchley Park in Morse code. The messages will be received by their counterparts in the Milton Keynes Amateur Radio Society who will hand them on to the decryption process before ‘tweeting’ the decoded message back to Cheltenham.

A spokesman for GCHQ said: “We are delighted to work with Bletchley Park and our amateur radio colleagues to highlight Bletchley Park’s remarkable wartime work and in particular, the role of Alan Turing in developing the Bombe decryption machine. It was the mechanisation of the decryption process that helped turn the tide of war and it is fitting that during this centenary year we should pay tribute to his vital and inspirational work.”

Iain Standen, CEO for The Bletchley Park Trust said: “This exciting link-up with GCHQ shows yet again the strong bonds that exist between our two organisations and offers the public an exciting opportunity to get involved with the codebreaking process.”