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On 2 August 1939, war with Germany was imminent. Vulnerable in central London, GC&CS prepared to evacuate to its wartime home, Bletchley Park. Detailed orders issued to staff asked them to pack their papers in small, lockable cupboards by 17:30 on 14 August. These would be transferred to Bletchley Park overnight. Staff themselves had to arrive on site at Bletchley Park by 10:00 on 15 August. Any curious locals would be told that activities at Bletchley Park were related to the aerial defence of London. The Mansion and the first Huts were ready and waiting, but the growing organisation quickly required more working accommodation. New Huts were planned and built during August 1939, and growth continued as the war began.


This Collections uncovered album was first published on 15 August 2019.

GC&CS had been planning for this move since 1938. Hut 1 was probably already in situ by April 1939, and Hut 2 was built around May 1939. Huts 3 and 4 were added in August 1939, possibly to provide short-term accommodation before the announcement of war with Germany. This photograph, taken c.1946-1950, shows the smaller Hut 1 in-between the later Huts 6 [centre-left] and 8 [centre].

These two medals belonged to Captain Hubert Faulkner, who was employed by the Foreign Office as Clerk of Works and Depot Foreman at Bletchley Park. He was responsible for the Hut building programme and general maintenance in the first years of the war.

The secrecy surrounding Bletchley Park meant that few photographs were taken of the site in wartime. This image shows a rare glimpse of Hut 1, seen in the background of a staff rounders match. Like many of the other huts, it was a small wooden building. Hut 1 housed an SIS wireless station until November 1939. The partly sawn-down trees you can see in the photograph held the station’s aerials. The first Bombe machine was tested in Hut 1 in March 1940. Image courtesy Judie Hodsdon.

Built in May 1939, Hut 2 was located north of the front of the Mansion. It functioned primarily as a recreation hut where staff could get tea, sandwiches and, from February 1943, beer. Until 1942 Hut 2 also housed the lending library. From the middle of 1942 it was used two evenings per week for Naval Section German and Italian language classes. The building was eventually demolished in 1946. This snowy scene shows Hut 2 located next to the Mansion. Image courtesy Judie Hodsdon.

Some codebreaking sections grew so quickly that they had to move several times. The first Hut 3 was built in August 1939, home to the main reporting section for all Enigma messages from the German Army and Air Force until the summer of 1940. A larger Hut 3 followed, while the original Hut 3 was renamed Hut 9 and probably used as an overflow for various sections. In this winter scene, you can see the roofline of the first Hut 3, later Hut 9. Image courtesy Judie Hodsdon.

This photograph, from around 1939, shows Hut 4 in the background while Italian Naval Section staff relax during a summertime lunch break. Hut 4 was constructed along the south side of the mansion under the supervision of Capt. Hubert Faulkner. One of the larger huts, it housed Naval Section and Air Section in 1939, and probably Military Section in Sept-Oct 1939. Image courtesy Judie Hodsdon.

Behind the Bletchley Park staff ice-skating on the lake, you can glimpse Hut 1 [centre] and Hut 6 [right] in the distance. We know this photograph was taken around January 1940, because after then this view would have been obscured by Hut 8. Hut 8 was occupied by February 1940, holding Alan Turing’s Naval Enigma Processing and Decryption Section. Image courtesy Judie Hodsdon.

As the war progressed, and the wartime codebreaking operation grew, Bletchley Park would expand considerably. By the end of 1945 there were more than 20 Huts on site, as well as several large permanent brick and steel blocks. But in 1991, the site was a shadow of its former self and the remaining buildings under threat of demolition to make way for a housing development. In 1992 a group of local historians saved the site from developers’ bulldozers and the Bletchley Park Trust was formed to preserve the site for the nation. This photograph shows Hut 6 in a dilapidated state in the 1990s before the Bletchley Park Trust began renovation.

During Bletchley Park’s restoration, two pieces of sandpaper were found hidden in a doorway in Hut 11A. These included messages from some of the workmen who built the Huts. Rediscovered after more than 70 years, this piece of sandpaper was signed on 30 January 1942 and includes the ‘V for Victory’ motto.

Today, visitors can experience what life was like for those working in the Huts at Bletchley Park in the restored Huts 3, 6 and 8.  Their busy wartime atmosphere has been recreated, based on first-hand accounts and rare surviving photographs, with rooms featuring period furniture and displays telling the story of the Codebreakers. Image by Andy Stagg.

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