Bletchley Park today

2008-07-06

in Bombs and rockets, Geek stuff, Security

Ottawa railway bridge

Bletchley Park, the English manor where codebreaking was undertaken during the Second World War, has been falling into disrepair due to lack of funds. This seems especially ungrateful, given the extremely important role the signals intelligence developed there played in the war. In particular, the decipherments helped to clear the Atlantic of U-boats, keep the United Kingdom supplied, and eventually shift the people and equipment required for D-Day and the retaking of the continent.

Work done at Bletchley was also important in relation to the emergence of modern computers. If there are historical sites worth preserving, this is surely one of them. Thankfully, the Heritage Lottery fund now seems likely to provide funding.

The fact that the codebreaking work done at Bletchley was not publicly announced until the 1970s makes it doubly important to tell the story well now. For decades, people who worked there had to respond with awkward silence when asked how they contributed to the war effort. Their extraordinary contribution deserves to be well marked today.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

. July 6, 2008 at 12:06 pm
Anon July 7, 2008 at 7:20 pm

This is really good to hear. Letting Bletchley Park fall into decay would be a real disgrace; they probably saved hundreds or thousands of lives on both sides.

. July 21, 2008 at 11:23 am

Bletchley Park kicks so much ass

By Cory Doctorow on Old school

. July 21, 2008 at 11:25 am
. July 24, 2008 at 11:11 am

‘Neglect’ of codebreakers’ HQ

In Technology

UK computer scientists sign a letter criticising the ongoing neglect of Bletchley Park – home of the wartime codebreakers.

. September 8, 2008 at 8:30 pm

PGP Leads Corporate Efforts To Save Bletchley Park

“CNET reports that PGP, together with IBM and other technology firms, is mounting a fundraising effort to benefit the ailing Bletchley Park, home of the Station X codebreaking efforts in World War II. ‘We’re calling attention (to the fact that) Bletchley is falling into disrepair, and that, probably, the world owes a debt of gratitude to that place,’ said Phil Dunkelberger, chief executive of PGP.”

. September 8, 2008 at 9:29 pm

Bletchley gets £50,000 donation

A bid to save Britain’s computing heritage has been given a $100,000 (£50,000) boost by a joint donation from hi-tech firms IBM and PGP.

The donation will help curate and restore exhibits at the National Museum of Computing in Bletchley Park, Bucks.

The two firms said they hoped the money would kick-start further donations from the technology industry to make up an estimated £7m needed to run the museum.

Exhibits include Colossus, thought by many to be the world’s first computer.

Andrew Hart, head of privacy and security services for IBM in the UK and Ireland, told the BBC that the technology held at Bletchley was a crucial part of the UK’s national heritage.

. September 29, 2009 at 3:05 pm

Bletchley Park gets National Lottery preservation funds

By Cory Doctorow on Science

The National Lottery has awarded Bletchley Park — the site of the invention of modern cryptography and a key piece of computer history — a £460,500 grant as a start on the £10m worth of desperately needed preservation spending. There’s some indication that they’ll come up with more money in the future, too.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m overjoyed to see Bletchley saved from ruin, but isn’t it kind of ironic that the funding to preserve the institute that demonstrated, once and for all, the power of randomness and the dangers of statistical innumeracy is coming from a state-sponsored scam that preys on innumeracy and bad intuition about randomness? I suspect that Turing and co would have sensibly looked at the lotto and said, “Pssht, I have a higher chance of dying before the balls are drawn than I have of winning the jackpot. No thanks.”

. August 10, 2011 at 5:28 pm

hypnosec noted that Google has stepped up to try to help fundraising for Bletchley Park. From TFA: “The point is that all of us have heroes. 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.”

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