A brief history of Bletchley Park Post Office.
Around 1900 a small building was added to the side of Bletchley Park mansion to serve as the Butler’s quarters close to the kitchens, cellar and stores.
When Bletchley Park became a top secret code breaking base at the start of World War Two Quartermaster Robert Budd established it as an undercover mailroom.
In those days people kept in touch with distant friends and relatives, particularly those serving overseas, by writing letters. Bletchley Park had to be especially careful that letters sent and received did not provide enemy agents with clues about the work it was engaged on. So the mailroom used undercover PO Box numbers such as PO Box 111 Bletchley and routed mail through different locations to avoid revealing Bletchley Park’s real purpose. Everyone had to follow strict rules and censorship when posting mail overseas.
Around 1947 the General Post Office (GPO) turned it into a sub post office and shop that continued for nearly 40 years serving delegates attending training courses and oblivious to Bletchley Park’s secret past. The GPO later split to become Royal Mail and British Telecom.
When Bletchley Park opened as a museum in 1994 it became the Park’s first ‘gift shop’ and issued the first of its famous first day covers for new stamp issues. These early issues are now much sought after and very valuable.
Bletchley Park is being developed to create a world class museum honouring the vital work than went on there between 1938 and 1945. In keeping with that, Bletchley Park Post Office set about a refurbishment project with a social history focus to give insight into what life was like as part of the “Home Front”.
In May 2012 we were honoured to have the first phase of the project opened by Michael Sefi, Keeper of the Royal Philatelic Collection. Mr Sefi advises the Queen on maintaining what is one of the world’s finest stamp collections. During his speech he revealed that his father was a senior army officer who during WW2 frequently visited Bletchley Park. The Keeper before Michael Sefi was Sir John Marriot and he was recruited as a Bletchley Park code breaker in 1943. So our links with the mail, philately and code breaking have some interesting credentials.