Public get behind the Bletchley Park World War Two codebreaking centre

By Culture24 Staff | 01 September 2009
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a man stood next to a wooden hut covered with a tarpaulin

Simon Greenish, Director of the Bletchley Park Trust with Hut 6 – German Army and Airforce Codebreaking Hut. Courtesy Bletchley Park Trust

Public Support for the Bletchley Park National Codes Centre has increased since the site received a knock-back from the government in May after a bid to secure vital funding for the Museum.

More than 20,000 members of the public signed the online petition this year that coincides with the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War and the petition and site have now been backed by a number of high profile supporters including actor and author Stephen Fry and historian Professor Richard Holmes.

Bletchley has also seen its visitor numbers rise dramtically - nearly doubling over the last three years.

In May, the government's response said: "The buildings on the Bletchley Park site are of significant historic importance and, although recognising the excellent work being carried out at the site it, has no plans nor the resources to extend its sponsorship of museums and galleries beyond the present number."

However, Bletchley bosses and supporters have hit back at the government response emphasising the historical importance of the codebreaking site and highlighting how the support needed is modest.

a code breaking machine in a wooden box

The Enigma codebreaking machine used in World War Two. Courtesy Bletchley Park Trust

"If we can't save the place that arguably did the most to win us the war, what hope is there for the nation," said Stephen Fry in support of the National Codes Centre.

This view was supported by eminent historian Richard Holmes who said: "The work here at Bletchley was no optional extra; no engaging very British sideshow; it was utterly fundamental to the survival of Britain and to the triumph of the West and I’m not actually sure that I can think of very many places where I could say something as unequivocal as that. This is sacred ground. If this isn't worth preserving, what is?"

Bletchley had asked for the government to provide £250,000 per year to develop the Museum in order to support the growing workload associated with increasing visitor numbers.

a photograph of a manor house set in grounds

The Mansion House at Bletchley Park. Courtesy Bletchley Park Trust

A major application has been placed with the Heritage Lottery Fund to support the Museum over the next three to five years after which, Bletchley would become self supporting.

"Public interest in Bletchley Park continues to rise dramatically and we have seen almost a doubling of visitor numbers over the past three years," said Simon Greenish Director of Bletchley Park.

"The public have consistently and overwhelmingly provided us with the powerful conviction that they are fully behind our mission to transform Bletchley Park into the world-class educational and heritage site it deserves to be, reflecting the profound significance of its impact on the twentieth century and the way we all live today. It is disappointing that the government feels unable to demonstrate its agreement with this."

For more information on the petition go to the Prime Ministers Office website.

More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned: