The exciting final episode of The Bletchley Circle Series 2 seems so long ago now for us in the UK, but for those in the US it is only a few more weeks until our vintage sleuths hit their screens on 13 April 2014.
When the show has been aired I will talk about some of the minor factual inconsistencies that knowledgeable readers have brought to my attention. It goes to show that writers and producers can’t pull a factual ‘fast one’ on audiences.
As watchers of the show, we want to take it for granted that facts are more or less right. The writer’s responsibility for portraying facts appear in my most popular articles about The Bletchley Circle – Did the writers get it right and Fact in Historical Fiction.
Something that was right in this finale of Series 2 its exciting and gripping story line was the post-war teacher training college at Bletchley Park. I love how the writer has touched on the post-war evolution of Bletchley Park. It’s certainly an area that is not well covered and it got my researcher’s fingers tingling.
While trying to find out more about the college I have found extracts of a long and very detailed report written by English Heritage about the history of Bletchley Park and its buildings.
On the first page of Section 3.4 – Wartime Building Operations at Bletchley Park, there is a glorious picture of the mansion taken in the 1950s – just about the time The Bletchley Circle women led by Alice, return to visit Lizzie Lancaster. As visiting time ends the women hide as everyone leaves then covertly find an abandoned Enigma machine in one of the blocks.
According to the English Heritage report, the Teacher Training College started at Bletchley Park in 1948 as an Emergency Training Centre then continued to use the site as a permanent training facility from 1950 until the 1970s. The college wasn’t the only inhabitant of the park – the General Post Office (later British Telecom) and GCHQ also occupied some of the wartime buildings.
Section 10.5 of English Heritage’s report records that the Teacher Training college mainly occupied Blocks A, B and E where it made minor alterations in 1950 to accommodate 50 students training to teach children and infants. The college also undertook more radical changes by demolishing Hut 7 and converting the wartime Teleprinter Building in 1957 into an assembly hall for the registered 119 students. Also from the mid-1960s, the college constructed additional classrooms around Block B and Block E.
I am definitely going to take the report to Bletchley Park for a wander around the lesser known buildings to get a true feel for their part in the historical evolution of this site. Given the report’s size, I am very thankful that I can rely on the lightness of technology to carry the report with me.
Contact English Heritage for details on the availability of this report (it’s no longer online in its entirety).