Bletchley Park looked like any other sprawling country estate. In reality, however, it was the top-secret headquarters of Britain’s Government Code and Cypher School - and the site where Germany’s legendary Enigma code was finally cracked. There, the nation’s most brilliant mathematical minds - including Alan Turing, whose discoveries at Bletchley would fuel the birth of modern computing - toiled alongside debutantes, factory workers, and students on projects of international importance. Until now, little has been revealed about ordinary life at this extraordinary facility.
"Dull treatment of an exciting subject"
After the Second World War, many of the men and women who had worked at Bletchley Park moved on to GCHQ: the British government's new facility established to fight the KGB. The Spies of Winter explores the early years of GCHQ as it navigated its way through a tumultuous era - from the defection of the Cambridge Five and the treachery of atomic scientist Klaus Fuchs to the collapse of the British Empire and the emergence of the US as a superpower.
Before Bletchley Park could break the German war machine’s code, its daily military communications had to be monitored and recording by "the Listening Service" - the wartime department whose bases moved with every theatre of war: Cairo, Malta, Gibraltar, Iraq, Cyprus, as well as having listening stations along the eastern coast of Britain to intercept radio traffic in the European theatre. This is the story of the - usually very young - men and women sent out to far-flung outposts to listen in for Bletchley Park, an oral history of exotic locations and ordinary lives turned upside down by a sudden remote posting.
"A Truly Fascinating Read"
Sinclair McKay’s book is the first history for the general listener of life at Bletchley Park, and an amazing compendium of memories from people now in their 80s - of skating on the frozen lake in the grounds, of a youthful Roy Jenkins, useless at code breaking, of the hijinks at nearby accommodation hostels - and of the implacable secrecy that meant girlfriend and boyfriend working in adjacent huts knew nothing about each other’s work.
A history of walking and our relationship with the British countryside. On the afternoon of Sunday April 24, 1932, a group of approximately five hundred men and women set out for the summit of Kinder Scout, the highest point in Derbyshire's Peak District. They were not here to take in the fresh air and breath-taking vistas: they were here to make a stand. Kinder Scout, like almost every other site of natural beauty in Britain at that time, was privately owned and fiercely guarded.