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Things to do in Bletchley, Buckinghamshire

Bletchley in Buckinghamshire is five miles south of Milton Keynes, close to the A5 and the M1 motorway.

Bletchley Park Mansion - the main base for Allied code breaking during World War II
Bletchley Park Mansion - the main base for Allied code breaking during World War II © Rob - stock.adobe.com

This historic community has its own distinct character with a history dating back to the 12th-century.

The Anglo-Saxon name means "Blaecca's Clearing".

The town was recorded in 12th-century manor records as Bicchelai, which over time became Bletchley.

Boats stuck in frozen Grand Union Canal
Boats stuck in frozen Grand Union Canal © Kyaw Thiha - stock.adobe.com

Bletchley remained a hamlet for centuries on the road between Fenny Stratford and Buckingham.

In 1845, when the London and North Western Railway was built, Bletchley became a major railway junction and the town expanded rapidly.

It was also on Watling Street, an old Roman Road which is now the A5.

The Grand Union Canal passes just south of the town. All these strong transport links gave the area its industrial history.

Colossus Digital computer at National Museum of Computing
Colossus Digital computer at National Museum of Computing © Steve Simmons UK - stock.adobe.com

Bletchley Park was an important secret base for code breakers during World War II.

It is famous as the place where the German Enigma Code was broken and where the world's first basic computer, Colossus, was developed.

In the 1960s Bletchley was part of the designated area of the New Town plan for developing Milton Keynes as an overspill for London.

Bletchley Park
Bletchley Park © chrisdorney - stock.adobe.com

The population grew from 5,500 to 17,000 residents by 1961.

 

Present Day Bletchley

Bletchley is now a sizeable town of around 34,000 inhabitants.

It has a traditional High Street of independent local shops and traditional services.

The Bombe device used by codebreakers during World War II
The Bombe device used by codebreakers during World War II © Rob - stock.adobe.com

Queen Elizabeth II visited Bletchley in 1966 and the shopping area was named Queensway in her honour.

Most larger retail stores can be found in the neighbouring Milton Keynes Shopping Centre.

Bletchley has excellent links for commuters.

A Great Blue Heron bird hunting on the Grand Union Canal
A Great Blue Heron bird hunting on the Grand Union Canal © Kyaw Thiha - stock.adobe.com

Its railway station is served by frequent trains to London Euston, just 35 minutes away, as well as to Birmingham New Street and Manchester Piccadilly. Luton airport is also convenient, a 35-minute drive away.

The town is the home of Milton Keynes Dons Football Club stadium which has a capacity of 30,000.

 

Things to Do Around Bletchley

Bletchley Park is now a museum celebrating the important work done in decrypting cyphers and codes.  It significantly shortened World War II and consequently saved many lives.

Milton Keynes town centre at summer day
Milton Keynes town centre at summer day © Pawel - stock.adobe.com

The National Museum of Computing is also part of the same site.

Bletchley has many unspoilt nature reserves and natural areas such as the Blue Lagoon Nature Reserve and the West Bletchley Sensory Garden.

The canal is used for recreational boating, kayaking and fishing.

There are pleasant traffic-free walks along the tow path and local pubs for refreshments.

Woburn Abbey
Woburn Abbey © pxl.store - stock.adobe.com

The town hosts many successful events which are fun to join in. West Bletchley Carnival in June attracts 20,000 visitors.

The Midsummer Madness and the Fenny Poppers celebration, when six cannons are fired, are all popular attractions.

Historic Woburn Abbey is open to the public although it is still the magnificent home of the 15th Duke of Bedford.

It dates back to 1145 and is set in a 3,000-acre deer park landscaped by Sir Humphrey Repton.

Giraffe - Woburn Safari Park
Giraffe - Woburn Safari Park © celal yesilada - stock.adobe.com

All the family will enjoy visiting Woburn Safari Park, where you can drive through the park to meet a wide variety of animals.

The abbey is also the home to a large Antiques Centre with over 50 shops, showcases and craft workshops.

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