Volunteering at the British Motor Museum offers many highlights throughout the year, whether it's new and exciting vehicles being added to the collection, new projects and activities, or engaging with the many interesting people who come to visit the Museum’s extensive collection of historic British cars.
Another highlight, that comes every year is the Volunteers' "annual outing". This often involves a trip to another museum, such as the new Silverstone Museum last year and Brooklands the year before that. We’ve also been fortunate to view the London Transport Museum Reserve Collection and the Jaguar Land Rover Classic workshops near Coventry.
Most years, our outings are related to vehicles or transportation, but this year, the Museum had arranged something rather different for us – a visit to Bletchley Park, near Milton Keynes. So, on 13 September, nearly 50 volunteers boarded the coach at the Museum for the 45-mile trip to Bletchley. A great benefit of the Museum's location, right on junction 12 of the M40, is that we can easily get to most places. Upon our arrival at the Visitor Centre, we were greeted with tea, coffee and biscuits, plus a brief overview of the museum’s large layout and attractions. We also split up into two groups for an hour-long guided tour.
Bletchley became the principal centre of Allied codebreaking during WWII. It housed the Government Code and Cypher School, which regularly penetrated the secret communications of the Axis Powers. The most important and well-known were the German Enigma and Lorenz cyphers, decoded by people like Alan Turing.
|The main office at Bletchley Park
In addition to our guided tour, a great audio tour was available to fully explain how the whole site at Bletchley was run during the war in great secrecy. At its peak, nearly 10,000 people, three-quarters of whom were women, worked at Bletchley and its outstations. This is reflected in the large number of buildings on site, referred to mainly as huts or blocks, with the centrepiece being The Mansion (the main headquarters), built in 1883.
Finally, for those interested, the garages and stables that adjoined the Mansion contained several fascinating wartime vehicles. The day was another excellent outing, for which we volunteers must thank the British Motor Museum and our coordinator Hannah Leese for organising.