Review: Bletchley Park

Bletchley Park – the home of British codebreakers who cracked the enigma machine in World War II. As both a history and computer nerd, I’ve been wanting to go for a while. After watching The Imitation Game and Hidden Figures, I finally got round to organising a visit as the March / April destination for my ‘explore the UK’ New Year challenge.

In the first building where you buy tickets, there’s a short video and mini exhibit giving a broad overview of the operations at Bletchley Park. After exiting this area, make sure you go into the large building on the right next to find out how the various machines worked. It will give you a lot of context for the rest of the visit! This building is the main museum and I spent about 2 hours here on both floors. Carry on out to the rest of the site for bunkers reproduced to what they would have been like at the time, the mansion that was here long before Bletchley Park, a cafe and a mini museum on pigeons of war!

PRACTICALITIES

Accessibility: Great
The paths were flat and ramps were available instead of steps. Some of the narrow corridors could be difficult to manage in a wheelchair when there’s lots of people about. I did notice some hearing loop signs about as well, and there’s lots of accessibility information on their website.

Photography: Average
There were no restrictions on non-commercial photography, but a lot of the exhibits were behind glass and there wasn’t anything that massively stood out as great photography opportunities.

Location: Good
The National Museum of Computing is right next door for a secondary attraction and there’s two cafes on site. Milton Keynes is just 5-10 minutes up the road for additional restaurants / shopping.

Public transport: Great
Bletchley Park is a five minute walk from Bletchley train station, which you can reach directly from London or Birmingham.

Weather dependent: Good
You need to go outside to go between the buildings and there’s a nice lake area with some outdoor signs that you would probably miss if it was raining. Other than that, good or bad weather will not affect your visit.

SCORE

ENJOYMENT & ENTERTAINMENT: 2.5/3

Personally, as a history graduate who works in IT, I thought it was great. There’s both the traditional museum side and the restored buildings to hold your interest – I was there from 11 until 5 and still didn’t read everything. But this will definitely vary if you are not as interested in one or both of these areas.

VALUE FOR MONEY: 1.5/3

£17.25 is quite a lot for a museum, even one where I spent all day. You can visit again free within the year, but unless you live nearby that’s not particularly useful. The cafe food was relatively expensive as well. It would be better if the audio guide / tour was split out into an optional extra, as these aren’t really things I’m interested in (I prefer to explore at my own pace).

ORGANISATION: 3/3

Lots of information online, maps available on-site, easy directed parking and plenty of guides around the site. Nothing to fault here.

Bonus point: Would I go again?

Half point. Probably yes for the National Computing Museum and once more of the renovations are completed, but not for a few years.

OVERALL: 7.5/10

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