Street View Trike Captures Bletchley Park Images

Search engine giant Google this week hosted a special garden party in order to raise much needed funds for Bletchley Park – and it emerged that Google has also sent its Street View cameras into the historic codebreaking site.

The garden partytook place within the grounds of Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire on Thursday, amid heavy rain. Graced by historians and figures from the technology industry, it was designed to raise cash for the restoration of Block C, one of the Park’s many historical buildings that badly needs restoration.

Google Heroes

Google has made no secret of its admiration of Bletchley Park and its vital efforts during the second world war.

Indeed, Google is said to have invested £100,000 into the £200,000 National Heritage fund that in February managed to purchase the papers of computing genius Alan Turing. The other funds reportedly came from the National Lottery.

“The point is that all of us have heroes,” Peter Barron, Google’s head of communications, was quoted as saying by the Daily Telegraph. “At Google our heroes are Alan Turing and the people who worked on breaking the codes at Bletchley Park. It was probably the most inspiring and uplifting achievement in scientific technology over the last hundred years. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that without Alan Turing, Google as we know it wouldn’t exist.”

Barron’s view of Bletchley Park is well founded. Alan Turing and his team developed Colossus, widely acknowledged as being the first electronic computer. Colossus was built to discover the settings that the Nazi Enigma encoding machines were using.

Computer Birthplace

Indeed, many regard Bletchley Park as the true birth-place of the computer industry. Last month the Queen unveiled a memorial in Bletchley Park honouring those men and women who played such an important role in ending the second world war.

Cracking the Enigma code, and later developing the codebreaking Turing Bombe Machine, has been hailed as shortening the war by at least two years and saving more than 20 million lives. However government secrecy meant that Bletchley Park’s work was not officially recognised until the 1980s.

This also meant that Bletchley Park received almost no funding during that time, and many of its buildings are in dire need of restoration.

The Bletchley Park Trust is seeking between £10m to £14m to maintain its historical buildings and restore those in a poor state. The Google Garden Party reportedly raised just over £10,000.

Street View Trike

Meanwhile Google has also sent its Street View camera off-road to collect images of the codebreaking site as part of its campaign to restore C block, which was once home to the master index of intercepted German messages.

Google used a trike (tricycle) that towed a trailer and 360-degree camera behind it, in order to capture the images. This means that Bletchley Park will join other internationally-significant heritage locations on Google’s special locations Street View sites.

Donations to Bletchley Park can be made here.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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