Bletchley Park secures £600,000 for restoration

Written by Ben Hardwidge

March 11, 2009 | 14:17

Tags: #bletchley #council #english #funding #park #simon #vintage-hardware

Companies: #bletchley-park #griffin

Despite being the famous site where the Enigma code was cracked during World War II, not to mention the place where Alan Turing and Gordon Welchman constructed the Turing-Welchman Bombe, Bletchley Park is now sadly in a dire state of repair. However, the site, which is also home to the National Museum of Computing, has just announced that Milton Keynes Council has agreed to stump up £300,000 for repairs due to public demand in the area.

The agreement will be formally announced tomorrow, and comes soon after English Heritage invested £330,000 in the park in November last year. However, the deal with Milton Keynes Council will effectively give the park an extra £600,000. Kelsey Griffin from Bletchley Park explained to bit-tech that “We’ve already had the £330,000 for the mansion roof that English Heritage gave us, but they also pledged another £100,000 over the next three years providing somebody came up with matched funding, and Milton Keynes Council have agreed to do that.”

Simon Greenish, director and CEO of the Bletchley Park Trust told bit-tech that “over the last few years Bletchley Park has seen the restoration of Huts 4, 8 and 12; Blocks A, B, E and H; established an American Garden Trail and, with significant help from English Heritage, rectified our biggest single problem, the Mansion roof.” He also added that “this new funding will mean we can now make significant inroads into the plethora of critical infrastructural problems associated with an ageing site that has been inadequately maintained for decades.”

However, a lot more money is still needed to restore Bletchley Park properly. Greenish described the funding from Milton Keynes Council as a “substantial step forward,” but said that the investment wasn’t “a complete solution.” He explained that the new funding “instead marks the start of a fundraising initiative to secure a further £4 million for restoration in addition to a proposed £5 million for museum development."

Greenish expressed his thanks to the people of Milton Keynes for their support, saying that “not only would we like to convey enormous gratitude to Milton Keynes Council and English Heritage for their collaboration and the clear demonstration of their belief in the Trust but, equally importantly, to the people of Milton Keynes for voting to support Bletchley Park in the Milton Keynes Council Budget Consultation.”

Meanwhile, English Heritage also expressed delight at the Council’s decision. The public body’s chief executive, Dr Simon Thurley, said that “when we announced our initial £300,000 grant last year for urgent roof repairs to the Grade II listed mansion, I laid down the gauntlet by pledging another £100,000 each year over three years if match funding could be found. I am delighted that Milton Keynes Council has pledged this money which will ensure urgent repairs can be made to the historic buildings on the site.”

Thurley also added an endorsement of the park, saying that “Bletchley Park is of enormous historical importance and played a vital role in the allies winning the Second World War. A large part of the activity that secured the freedom that Europe now enjoys took place here, and this is why English Heritage is so keen to help.”

Bletchley Park’s National Museum of Computing features a reconstruction of the famous Colossus Mark 2 computer used to crack the German Enigma code in World War II, and the site was also the main setting in the film Enigma, although the film was shot at nearby Chicheley Hall rather than Bletchley Park itself. Last year, Bletchley Park was turned down for a National Lottery grant, as well as funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, so it’s good to see that a lot of funding is coming from other sources.

Have you visited Bletchley Park, or do you have plans to visit the National Museum of Computing in the future? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.
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