Scientists call on government to save Bletchley

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Scientists call on government to save Bletchley

Mark Watts

Nearly 100 leading computer scientists have joined forces to call on the government to intervene to save Bletchley Park from irreparable decay.

In an open letter to The Times, they warned that the centre that broke German codes during World War II and helped launch the modern computer is under threat from "the ravages of age and a lack of investment".

The 97 signatories to the letter - mostly professors and heads of university departments - called for the site to be turned into the National Museum of Computing.

They wrote: "Many of the huts where the code breaking occurred are in a terrible state of disrepair.

"As a nation, we cannot allow this crucial and unique piece of both British and world heritage to be neglected in this way. The future of the site, buildings, resources and equipment at Bletchley Park must be preserved for future generations by providing secure long-term financial backing.

"Is it too much to ask that Bletchley Park be provided with the same financial stability as some of our other great museums such as the Imperial War Museum, the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum?"

They said that the centre had only survived so far thanks to Milton Keynes borough council declaring it a conservation area in 1992, and the formation of the Bletchley Park Trust. Bletchley Park is known to have had trouble raising funds for repairs.

The scientists wrote: "The work undertaken at Bletchley Park during the Second World War in breaking German wartime codes played a significant part in winning that war and securing our future."

"Bletchley Park also played a significant role 65 years ago in the design and development of Colossus, one of the world's first programmable electronic computers.

"It is therefore fitting that the world's first purpose-built computer centre should be home to the National Museum of Computing."

The signatories were led by Professor Keith van Rijsbergen, chairman of this year's Research Assessment Exercise, Computer Science & Informatics sub-panel, and included Professor Robert Churchouse of Cardiff University and formerly of GCHQ, the electronic spy base.

Last March, Computer Weekly reported how the Museum of Computing was looking for a new home because it had to leave its base after the University of Bath decided to close its Oakdale campus in Swindon, which also prompted fears that Britain's computing legacy could be forgotten by the next generation of students.





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