After more than ten hours of tense work, the Turing-Welchman Bombe arrived safely at The National Museum of Computing on Bletchley Park. With air lifts, wheel changes and extremely tight squeezes, the reconstruction of the extraordinary Enigma code-breaking machine edged its way into its new gallery that will soon be open to the public.
The move was made possible thanks to the generous contributions of more than 500 individuals and organisations who donated more than £50,000 in a four-week Crowdfunder appeal ending in March to keep the Bombe on the Bletchley Park Estate.
TNMOC Trustee Keven Murrell who was present on moving day to lend a hand described the tension of the operation: “To transport a one-tonne machine with delicate moving parts over flower beds, up steps and ramps and through the narrowest of gaps and around the tightest of turns was an astonishing feat. Even removing the door frame to the new gallery wasn’t enough to squeeze the Bombe into its new location – last minute judicious handywork was required to create an extra half-a-centimetre of space! As darkness fell, the Bombe finally reached its new home – and not one person dropped the Bombe.”
The move was accomplished by the Bombe team volunteers led by John Harper, a resident TNMOC team led by Jacqui Garrad, and a highly experienced team of removal experts from Flegg Transport.
On behalf of everyone at TNMOC, Andrew Herbert, chair of trustees, said “It is a real thrill to know that so many people have contributed to the success of the move – from the generosity of the general public to the expertise of the reconstructors. It is a heartfelt tribute from today’s generations to the codebreakers and digital pioneers of the past.”
The Turing-Welchman Bombe was the electro-mechanical device designed by Alan Turing and Gordon Welchman, based on a Polish concept, to automate the deciphering of Enigma-encrypted messages during the Second World War. After years of work, a team led by John Harper finished the reconstruction of the machine in 2007.
The reconstructed Bombe is now located very close to the existing world-famous rebuild of Colossus that helped break the Lorenz cipher of German High Command during the Second World War. Together these two displays explore the ingenuity and inventiveness of the Second World War codebreakers – and the beginnings of our digital world.
The new Bombe Gallery will be officially opened this summer when the gallery refurbishment is complete.
Notes To Editors
About the Turing-Welchman Bombe reconstruction
The Turing-Welchman Bombe was the electro-mechanical device designed by Alan Turing and Gordon Welchman, based on a Polish concept, to automate the deciphering of Enigma-encrypted messages during the Second World War.
In the early 1990s John Harper, a retired engineer, was inspired to recruit a team to reconstruct a Bombe machine as a tribute to the wartime code-breakers at Bletchley Park. The reconstructed Bombe was completed and officially launched in 2007. The reconstruction replicates the standard British Bombe that contained 36 Enigma equivalents, each with three drums wired to produce the same enciphering effect as the Enigma cipher machine motors.
About The National Museum of Computing
The National Museum of Computing, located on Bletchley Park in Block H, one of England’s ‘irreplaceable places’, is an independent charity housing the world's largest collection of functional historic computers, including the rebuilt Colossus, the world’s first electronic computer, and the WITCH, the world's oldest working digital computer. The Museum enables visitors to follow the development of computing from the ultra-secret pioneering efforts of the 1940s through the large systems and mainframes of the 1950s, 60s and 70s, and the rise of personal computing in the 1980s and beyond.
The Museum runs a highly successful Learning Programme for schools and colleges and promotes introductions to computer coding amongst young people to inspire the next generation of computer scientists and engineers.
Sponsors of the Museum have included Bletchley Park Science and Innovation Centre, Fujitsu, InsightSoftware.com, Paessler, Sophos, Lenovo, Bloomberg, Ocado Technology, Ceravision, CreateOnline, 4Links, Google UK, IBM, NPL, HP Labs, FUZE and BCS.
The whole Museum is open to the public from 12 noon - 5 pm on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, spring and summer Bank Holidays. During long school holidays, there are additional opening days. The Colossus and Tunny galleries are open daily. Public and private Guided Tours are available and bookable online – see the website for details. Educational and corporate group visits are available by prior arrangement.
For more information, see www.tnmoc.org and follow @tnmoc on Twitter and The National Museum of Computing on Facebook and Google+.
Stephen Fleming, Palam Communications, for The National Museum of Computing