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Bletchley Park celebrates WW2 railway connections

Date Posted:26/03/2014

Bletchely ParkBletchley Park celebrates WW2 railway connections with 2for1 admission

‘On arrival at Bletchley Railway Station, take the exit from the arrival platform, go to the station forecourt and report to a hut on the far right hand side, marked RTO and show him but DO NOT GIVE him your envelope. He will direct you …’. These were the intriguing instructions given to thousands of the young people freshly recruited by the Foreign Office to report for Top Secret duties at wartime Bletchley Park, many young women who had never been away from home before or students plucked from university.  Imagine the train journey and experiencing the mixture of emotions, from excitement to trepidation, not knowing what was in store for them on arrival.
The railway played a crucially important role in the work of Bletchley Park during World War Two. Bletchley Station sat on the main London to Northwest railway line and was also connected via the so-called Varsity Line, to Oxford and Cambridge. Many of the Codebreakers would be recruited from the colleges of the great universities there at the beginning of the war. During the war, the trains ran around the clock and recruits arrived at Bletchley Station at all hours of the night and day.
In The Secret Life of Bletchley Park , author Sinclair McKay recounts the arrival of one Bletchley Park recruit, Sarah Baring and her friend, Osla Henniker-Major. They “...received the summons by means of a terse telegram. She remembers that it read: ‘You are to report to Station X at Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire, in four days time. Your postal address is Box 111, c/o The Foreign Office. That is all you need to know.’
“These two aristocratic young women arrived one evening in the spring of 1941, having travelled by rail from Euston. Just over an hour later, they were there. ‘We decanted ourselves from the train at Bletchley station,’ recalls the Honourable Sarah Baring, ‘and then, weighed down by our luggage, we staggered up a rutted narrow path. On the side of the tracks, there was an eight foot high chained fence. It was topped by a roll of barbed wire.
“The boundary of the Bletchley Park estate is adjacent to the railway station. The two women struggled with their suitcases through the twilight along this long, quiet path, up a gentle slope running along the fenced side of the wooded grounds, until they reached the short driveway and the concrete RAF sentry post that stood on the road towards the house. The sentry on duty swiftly established that these incongruously elegant ladies were expected.
“Then they caught their first view of the big house itself, with the lake before it, the thick branches of a Wellingtonia tree obscuring some of the windows. One or other of them raised an eyebrow at the prospect. For these two young women – both of whom would have been familiar with grander properties – initial impressions were not remotely favourable. ‘It was a bit of a shock,’ says Sarah Baring lightly now. ‘We thought the house was perfectly monstrous.’ “
To commemorate its historic wartime connections, Bletchley Railway Station now not only proudly displays signs announcing, “Alight here for Bletchley Park, Home of the Codebreakers”, but Bletchley Park has teamed up with Network Rail to bring you an exciting offer.  You too can now arrive at Bletchley by train in the same way as so many of those extraordinary Codebreakers did during WW2 and benefit from 2 for 1 admission to Bletchley Park - CLICK HERE for more information.