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Bletchley Park Gets £4.6 Million Restoration

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the heavy-support dept.

United Kingdom 71

mikejuk writes "Bletchley Park has secured a £4.6 million Heritage Lottery Fund Grant for the establishment of a visitor center dedicated to the World War II Codebreakers. This year saw the unveiling of a new memorial to the Codebreakers in the grounds of Bletchley Park by the Queen. Shortly after her visit, a new fundraising campaign for the restoration of the iconic huts where the code-breaking teams worked was inaugurated, with help and sponsorship from Google. The grant will enable the restoration of Codebreaking Huts 1, 3 and 6, and create a world-class visitor center and exhibition in the currently derelict Block C. The Bletchley Park Trust has launched the 'Action This Day' campaign to raise the match funding now needed."

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Good use of the money (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#37609824)

This is a really important bit of our recent history. It would be a shame to let it rot away.

Re:Good use of the money (1)

weffew... (954080) | more than 2 years ago | (#37609870)

GCHQ and BT both wanted it turned into a housing estate, albeit for differing reasons.

Re:Good use of the money (1)

Going_Digital (1485615) | more than 2 years ago | (#37609948)

Part of it has been, the site was bigger than it is now but a few years ago part of it was sold to developers, fortunately it was just some open ground, not any of the buildings.

Re:Good use of the money (1)

_Shad0w_ (127912) | more than 2 years ago | (#37610528)

Sounds like the southern end of the RARDE Waltham Abbey - it's all under a housing estate and/or commercial sites now. The north end is protected and forms the Waltham Abbey Royal Gunpowder Mills museum (awesome place to visit, especially if you can get on a walking tour of the restricted access portion)

Re:Good use of the money (1)

Tim99 (984437) | more than 2 years ago | (#37611142)

Yes, a great place to visit. I worked there in the 70s. I went back a couple of months ago and did the normal visitor tour - I was surprised by how much had been preserved, lots of wildlife still. The top end by the Test pool is a dragonfly sanctuary.

They are looking for volunteers http://www.royalgunpowdermills.com/support-us/ [royalgunpowdermills.com]

Re:Good use of the money (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#37610684)

I've never visited the place, but I hope they don't just show the English side though. The great efforts and ingenuity of the German scientists whose work was used by the other team deserves to not be forgotten either.

Re:Good use of the money (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37611028)

This is not America you know. I went to the Smithsonian in the early 1990's. They had a feature on Vertical Takeoff vehicles. There was nothing on the Harrier (of the flying bedstead) despite the fact the USMC used them extensively.
I asked someone about this omission.
I was politely told that 'This Museum is for American Taxpayers and they are not interested in the failures of other countries'.
I reminded him of the fact that the USMC were using Harriers.
He responded
"That is classified. If you continue to talk about it, I'll have you arrested'

I was fuming. That told me everything I needed to know about US Culture, Things might be different these days. I sure hope so.
{I worked on the USMC Harrier program at Hawkers in the 1970's}

Re:Good use of the money (1)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#37612514)

Patriotism and Nationalism are not far seperated.

American's are taught from an early age that patriotism is not just good, but expected. They use an old communist pledge to worship a flag every school day as a child. It is no surprise the US is so insular- Americans have nationalism beat into them as children.

Most people turn out relatively normal though- but a number do become very nationalistic and fail to see any positives from foreign shores.

You caught one of the looneys on a bad day. The average American would not have been so hostile.

Re:Good use of the money (1)

hackertourist (2202674) | more than 2 years ago | (#37612762)

They do show some German artifacts (Enigma and Lorenz encoding machines) but don't go into the German side of things too deeply. IIRC they explain the design of the Enigma to some extent, but Lorenz and its brethren don't get much explanation.
Of course, much of the success of Bletchley is owed to the lack of ingenuity of the German scientists and the security holes this created, allowing regular breaks into the encrypted traffic.

Something to 'celebrate' about war ... (1)

MacTO (1161105) | more than 2 years ago | (#37609850)

I'm a pacifist, so I basically don't want to think about the darker side of war even when it was necessary evil to ensure the freedom of the children and grandchildren of those who fought in the war.

So when I see governments acknowledging the contributions of non-combatants in non-violent roles, I have to congratulate them. Bletchley Park mayn't have ended the war, but it certainly made it shorter and less bloody.

If you think war is a necessary evil... (2)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 2 years ago | (#37610364)

... then you're not a true pacifist because thats what most people think. Very few people see war as a laugh. A true pacifist would never advocate war no matter what and would sooner see himself and his entire family tortured and killed than raise an arm in anger. Basically they're simply cowards dressing up their cowardise as a political idiology.

Re:If you think war is a necessary evil... (2)

Dominic (3849) | more than 2 years ago | (#37610484)

So Gandhi was a coward?

Re:If you think war is a necessary evil... (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 2 years ago | (#37610588)

Nice try, but if ghandi and his followers had attempted a violent uprising it would have been a suicide mission that would have resulted in far greater oppression by the british in the long run so he had no choice in the matter.

Re:If you think war is a necessary evil... (1)

aiht (1017790) | more than 2 years ago | (#37622194)

So Gandhi was an opportunistic coward?

Re:If you think war is a necessary evil... (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 2 years ago | (#37623630)

No , Gandhi was someone who was smart enought to realise that being annihilated is not a good way to achieve your goals.

Re:If you think war is a necessary evil... (1)

rich_hudds (1360617) | more than 2 years ago | (#37624218)

Gandhi wasn't a coward but he was certainly no saint

When pressed on what the Jews should do in response to Hitler he suggested they should all commit suicide.

When his wife got ill he refused to allow her 'Western' medicine and she died. When he himself got ill he had a rethink and decided that 'Western' medicine wasn't so bad after all.

Anyone who expects you to wash their feet is probably a bit flawed imho

Pacifism is not necessarily cowardly but it isn't necessarily ethical either.

Re:If you think war is a necessary evil... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37610488)

I don't anyone would would follow through on their beliefs, to the point of torture, can be called a coward.

Re:If you think war is a necessary evil... (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 2 years ago | (#37610536)

I do. Cowardise isn't simply avoiding pain.

Re:If you think war is a necessary evil... (1)

diersing (679767) | more than 2 years ago | (#37610508)

I think you're understanding is flawed. There is a difference between non-violence and non-aggression. Just because I think nations should solve their disputes with words rather than bombs doesn't mean I'd willingly welcome a torturous murder of my family. Pacifism allows for self-defense.

Re:If you think war is a necessary evil... (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 2 years ago | (#37611080)

I doubt there are many here would have the courage to see themself and their entire family tortured and killed than rather raise an arm in anger. You might well disagree with that course of action, but to call it cowardice is plain silly.

National Museum of Computing (1)

MiggyMan (227116) | more than 2 years ago | (#37609934)

I Wonder if the National Museum of Computing will get any of this ?

Re:National Museum of Computing (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#37610008)

I Wonder if the National Museum of Computing will get any of this ?

I think that the huts are part of the National Museum of Computing exhibits, but it will be a grant for a specific purpose

Re:National Museum of Computing (1)

hackertourist (2202674) | more than 2 years ago | (#37610392)

There is some overlap; IIRC the Colossus exhibit is part of the NMOC, but confusingly it follows Bletchley's opening hours, rather than the NMOC's more limited hours.

Re:National Museum of Computing (1)

Going_Digital (1485615) | more than 2 years ago | (#37610032)

No, they don't even get any commission from the Bletchley Trust when they run an event that brings in lots of PAYING visitors. The National Museum of Computing essentially just rents the space as a tenant, despite their efforts being responsible for increasing visitor numbers they get no special recognition from Betchley.

Re:National Museum of Computing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37610160)

The NMC may not even be welcome at BP for much longer. The resident Air Training Corps squadron has been told to dispose of their preserved Harrier gate-guardian ASAP because the BP site will be a "World War 2-only" facility.

Shame that all this fame has gone to their heads.

Re:National Museum of Computing (1)

Going_Digital (1485615) | more than 2 years ago | (#37611082)

They will have to get rid of the car display in the stables then as those are not WW2 era vehicles.

Re:National Museum of Computing (1)

MiggyMan (227116) | more than 2 years ago | (#37611542)

I had this discussion with the guys at the vcf, what makes it worse is that people assume the because bletchly get funding, so do they :(

enigma (1, Interesting)

Dark Lord of Ohio (2459854) | more than 2 years ago | (#37610010)

It is a shame that on their site there is nothing about polish "coders" who in 1932 broke the enigma code and made it available for British and French intelligence... wiki - in December 1932, the Polish Cipher Bureau first broke Germany's military Enigma ciphers. Five weeks before the outbreak of World War II, on 25 July 1939, in Warsaw, they presented their Enigma-decryption techniques and equipment to French and British military intelligence. Thanks to this, during the war, Allied codebreakers were able to decrypt a vast number of messages that had been enciphered using the Enigma. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enigma_machine [wikipedia.org]

Re:enigma (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 2 years ago | (#37610020)

History is the propaganda of the winner, comrade.

Re:enigma (1)

Dark Lord of Ohio (2459854) | more than 2 years ago | (#37610048)

History is the propaganda of the winner, comrade.

Yeah, but they were on the winning side anyway...

Re:enigma (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 2 years ago | (#37610112)

Oh, everyone ends up on the winning side.

Re:enigma (4, Informative)

Shimbo (100005) | more than 2 years ago | (#37610078)

It is a shame that on their site there is nothing about polish "coders" who in 1932 broke the enigma code and made it available for British and French intelligence...

You didn't look very hard. http://www.bletchleypark.org.uk/content/hist/history/polish.rhtm [bletchleypark.org.uk]

Re:enigma (1)

Dark Lord of Ohio (2459854) | more than 2 years ago | (#37610270)

well... shame on me then... it's good they mentioned about it. thanks for the info.

Re:enigma (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37610086)

It is a shame that on their site there is nothing about polish "coders" who in 1932 broke the enigma code and made it available for British and French intelligence

They have a detailed page about Polish contributions here: http://www.bletchleypark.org.uk/content/hist/history/polish.rhtm [bletchleypark.org.uk]

Re:enigma (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37610544)

Other posters have pointed out that you can't have looked very hard, the website is scattered with references to the Poles as well as having dedicated parts.

Also, having been to Bletchey Park, I can also confirm that the place itself give lots of Kudos to the Polish code breakers and mathematicians.

Re:enigma (1)

karolbe (1661263) | more than 2 years ago | (#37610638)

Yep. They did not forget about Poland! ;-)

Re:enigma (1)

BigZee (769371) | more than 2 years ago | (#37611536)

Not only is this subject quite well covered at the park, they have a memorial to the Polish coders. I believe they also have an annual Polish Day.

Re:enigma (1)

Dark Lord of Ohio (2459854) | more than 2 years ago | (#37612570)

If thats true, next time I will go to London I will drive there and personally apologise the manager (whoever is in charge) of Bletchley Park for my lack of knowledge.

Re:enigma (1)

jeremyp (130771) | more than 2 years ago | (#37623348)

More about the memorial: http://www.ww2museums.com/article/11049/Polish-Memorial-Bletchley-Park.htm [ww2museums.com]

BP is quite a long way from London. You'll need a whole day to drive there, have a look around, apologise and drive back. I'd skip the apology though, if I were you. I doubt if the manager of BP reads Slashdot.

It's a common misconception that the Polish contribution is not acknowledged anywhere. In fact, I have read many popular accounts about the code breaking. They all talk about the Polish contribution and they all claim that popular accounts don't give enough credit.

In honor of Bletchley Park (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37610088)

I've renamed the bathroom here, Codebreaking Hut 7.

Re:In honor of Bletchley Park (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 2 years ago | (#37610552)

Hoping for a cut of the money to get it redecorated?

failZors (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37610106)

the fu7ure holds

Osterity measures at work (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37610124)

Is a 4.6 million pound facility really necessary? Couldn't the preservation of history be acheived with some strategic Wikipedia edits, a nice inset in major textbooks, and perhaps a mobile exhibit of relevant artifacts?

Re:Osterity measures at work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37610266)

No.

Re:Osterity measures at work (1)

aiht (1017790) | more than 2 years ago | (#37622212)

What's Osterity?
Being frugal with Ostriches?
Austerity in Österreich?

U571 (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37610130)

i hope they have recognition for the brave crew of U571 and Matthew McConaughey

Re:U571 (4, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | more than 2 years ago | (#37610338)

Flamebaiting bastard.

(As most UK people will know, the movie U-571 is entirely bullshit about how the US captured an Enigma machine from a boat that, in real life, was never involved)

Wonder how the Yanks would feel about a British movie depicting the Boston Tea Party as a British success...

Re:U571 (1)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#37610802)

*chortle*

Don't let Hollywood get you upset. It isn't worth it, only thing they value is cash, they care not a whit for history, patriotism, mom or apple pie. Only what they can get you to pay them money for. If that involves telling a bunch of yanks that they are single handedly saving the world, well, that's what they do.

That they all believe it is a problem, but the motives are pure capitalism.

Re:U571 (1)

Peter Simpson (112887) | more than 2 years ago | (#37611710)

And the story of how the Brits *did* capture an Enigma from a sinking submarine is told in David Kahn's excellent _Seizing the Enigma_

Re:U571 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37611828)

Hollywood never lets the truth get in the way of a good story,

On or off the screen.

Badly required (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37610212)

Just a month ago I brought myself to visitting this legendary place. After reading about it, especially books like 'Cryptonomicon' raised the expectations high. Disappointment was higher. There is a single building containing half-interesting objects, like recreation of an Enigma, some documents and radio tech. Rest is filled with misplaced mannequins and scavanged posters. It feels like anything of interest has been removed and nothing was added.

Area around it is now a typical UK town and the romance of "remoteness" is nowhere to be seen. There is a lot that can be done to improve the experience of the visit and I hope it takes place, I would love to visit again but this time have more look at.

Re:Badly required (2)

ledow (319597) | more than 2 years ago | (#37610308)

Did you miss the point that it was mainly secret in its working days (so it was in a quiet town, in the middle of nowhere, away from German bombs) but is now in a modern-day town where it has zero impact on the local economy, that most of the equipment was destroyed afterwards (and hence what you see is the result of DECADES of restoration work of then-top-secret equipment of which virtually nothing original remains), that the building has been derelict (hence the raising of money) ever since it was *deliberately* cleared and abandoned decades ago? At the moment it is *literally* run by fanatics, not cash, so a few scavenged posters is all they have left after reconstructing all that equipment. Everything else is in planning stages.

You don't preserve the place by turning into The Canterbury Tales with talking characters, etc. especially with ZERO funding that they've had up until now (hence this being a news story that they CAN actually put something there now - and so they should).

Like the Stalag that I went to visit in Germany last year that was nothing more than a bit of grass with some vague building outlines on and a little building with old movies/photos, it was never designed to be a tourist attraction and still isn't except for those who understand what it WAS.

That said, my brother has taken Scout groups to Bletchley several times (he was given a valve-amp, by someone who worked there on the reconstruction, for the kids to study) - so long as you set the scene and explain what's going on there, it's still pretty interesting.

The preservation of it is important but IT HASN'T STARTED. Not properly. For decades it's just been people saying it *should* be preserved but they have literally only just been given the funds to do so - and in ten years time it will be a more interesting place to take your kids.

Personally, I'd rather they built any museum / exhibit close-by and preserved the original buildings as best they could but I doubt it will happen.

Re:Badly required (1)

hackertourist (2202674) | more than 2 years ago | (#37610430)

it was never designed to be a tourist attraction and still isn't except for those who understand what it WAS.

They may not have all the bells and whistles, but the comparison you make to the Stalag site is unfair. Bletchley already has plenty of things of interest to non-nerds, including exhibits geared towards children. And what they may lack in amenities is more than made up for by their superb tour guides. They manage to explain the very complicated codebreaking operations in terms that most people can understand. So no, it's not just for those who 'understand what it WAS'.

Re:Badly required (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 2 years ago | (#37611188)

I did my apprenticeship there, before the "new city" of Milton Keynes had been built. The site had been taken over by the post office and the civil aviation authority, both of whom were using it as a technical training establishment. Believe me, the "remoteness" had no "romance" even then. It translated as "dullness". It was never particularly remote anyway, being only a couple of miles from Leighton Buzzard, a couple of miles from Stony Stratford, a couple of miles from Wolverton (about the only place in the area that could beat Bletchley for dullness). They were all separate towns then, although all but Leighton Buzzard have now been swallowed up by Milton Keynes.

Great (3, Insightful)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#37610410)

Too bad they can't give Alan Turing his life back.

Re:Great (2)

hackertourist (2202674) | more than 2 years ago | (#37610452)

Enough with the moaning about Alan Turing already! Yes, he was treated awfully by the British government aftwer WW2, but this has nothing to do with Bletchley; during his tenure at Bletchley Turing was left in peace.
Also, Bletchley currently houses a memorial and celebrates Turing's invaluable contribution to the codebreaking effort. What more do you want?

Re:Great (1)

_Shad0w_ (127912) | more than 2 years ago | (#37610608)

He got given £50 personally by Churchill too. That was his entire reward for creating the bombes and other contributions.

Re:Great (1)

heroid1a (1898046) | more than 2 years ago | (#37611172)

Not quite as bad as it sounds given that an average house cost £500 at the time (http://www.wwwk.co.uk/culture/housing/index.htm) Perhaps more like £20,000 in current value? (At a guess, ignoring housing bubbles...) Although I do agree his later treatment was appalling : we can only be glad that, in the UK at least, people are generally more tolerant.

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37613938)

No, keep moaning. It's terrible that such a thing happened, yet so much worse it would be for something like that to happen twice.

Does 4.6 million convert to something in metric? (1, Interesting)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#37610422)

4.6 million is how much Chase Manhattan gave to the NYC cops to beat up protesters.

Is it some kind of magic number?

That match funding request in full... (1)

zevans (101778) | more than 2 years ago | (#37610534)

SENDM ONEYN OWXXX

Great news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37611236)

Glad to see this funding come through for the park.

Their website sucks :( (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 2 years ago | (#37612076)

Their website, frankly said, visually sucks. Those YellowHawk people are doing themselves a disservice.

They don't seem to have a design document done for consistent use of their logo, nor for consistency among visual elements on the pages. There are tons of annoyances, they didn't even do the most trivial things like color correction on the B/W pictures (say on the history page [bletchleypark.org.uk] ). I don't claim to be any sort of a highfalutin' designer, but there's a point where things just get too annoying to look at, and all the minor problems add up...

5.4 million short (1)

xdor (1218206) | more than 2 years ago | (#37612498)

Nothing gets built in England for less than 10 million.

Heritage Lottery Fund Grant (1)

mattOzan (165392) | more than 2 years ago | (#37613376)

Given that the lottery is frequently described as a "tax on people who are bad at math," it is a wonderful irony that this money is going to commemorate some of the most important mathematical work in history.

Are Donations From US Tax Deductible? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37614530)

Just curious.. never considered donating to a charity that didn't have an arm here in the States.

Bletchley a head start for UK computing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37615634)

If the equipment had not been highly secret, and disposed of at the end of the war, could England have had an early basis for a computing industry?

Re:Bletchley a head start for UK computing? (1)

aiht (1017790) | more than 2 years ago | (#37622230)

Yes. [wikipedia.org]

This reminded me about "Most Secret War"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37617322)

... a book written by Prof. R.V. Jones that is worth a read by anyone interested in the history of applied science & tech
IIRC the CIA even has an award in his honor.

Cool, but (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618080)

Now that we've decided to renovate the Isle of Kryptos, can we do something about shoring up Greece itself?

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