Second world war codebreaking centre Bletchley Park has been given a £250,000 government grant to pay for repairs to the site
Bletchley Park, home of the Enigma machine and the place where Germany’s codes were cracked during the Second World War, is to receive £250,000 in government funding for urgent repairs.
Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw visited Bletchley Park yesterday to announce the allocation of funds, which will be used primarily to resurface potholed roads and car parks, and install new roofs on the historical buildings.
Museum brings WW2 cryptography alive
“The work carried out at Bletchley Park had a huge impact on the course of the war, and the museum does a brilliant job in bringing this alive for people of all ages. But, having doubled its visitor numbers over the last three years, it urgently needs funds to keep it in good condition,” said Bradshaw. “I am delighted to announce this grant which will help renovate the buildings and ensure that future visitors enjoy a really high quality experience when they come here.”
The decision marks a shift in the government’s attitude towards the historical site, after Lord Davies of Oldham last year snubbed suggestions that Bletchley Park should be elevated to the same status as the Imperial War Museum. “The House is all too well aware of the significance of designating any area in association with a museum of that rank, but I want to give an assurance that Bletchley Park will continue to develop under the resources made available to it,” he said.
The new government funding will be added to the £460,000 awarded to the Bletchley Park Trust by the Heritage Lottery Fund in October 2009, earmarked for museum development. The combined contributions take Bletchley park a substantial proportion of the way to raising the £1 million needed by mid-2011 to secure £4.1 million of further funding. The Trust will then work on raising a further £5 million to complete the development of a world-class museum.
“This enormously-appreciated funding boost will not only enable vital repair and maintenance of this WW2 site for the benefit of our rapidly growing number of visitors, but it also represents endorsement by the DCMS that Bletchley Park is a place of national importance which deserves government support,” said Simon Greenish, CEO of the Bletchley Park Trust.
Home of world’s oldest computers
During World War II, Bletchley Park was the site of the UK’s main decryption establishment – the Government Code and Cypher School. One of the centre’s greatest achievements was decrypting German Enigma codes to French and British intelligence. The British used this information as the foundation for their own early efforts to decrypt Enigma.
Bletchley Park also houses Colossus – the world’s first semi-programmable computer, which was constructed in order to break the German Enigma ciphers. In September 2009 it was also announced that the Harwell computer – the oldest “original functioning electronic stored program” machine of its kind – would be restored by a group of volunteers on the site.
More recently Bletchley Park played host to a national partnership, designed to encourage the UK local authorities to work together to save £60 million a year across their educational ICT budgets, through the use of open source solutions.
“The 17 Local Authorities comprising the North West Learning Grid will now be looking at the feasibility of implementing open source solutions in all areas of their education services,” said the CEO of the North West Learning Grid, Gary Clawson, in October.
World War II code-breaker and computer scientist Alan Turing, who worked at Bletchley Park, was given a posthumous apology by Gordon Brown last September, after an online petition called for an acknowledgement of his mistreatment in postwar Britain, over his sexuality.