PGP and IBM kickstart Bletchley Park rescue

Although more funds are needed to restore the site of Britain's World War II code-breaking operation, Bletchley Park received a welcome donation from PGP Corp. and IBM.

The crumbling remains of Britain's code-breaking heritage have received a welcome financial lifeline from IBM and PGP Corp., but the buildings at Bletchley Park still need to raise a further £10 million to carry out all necessary work.

Announcing his company's support for the National Museum of Computing, which is based at Bletchley Park, PGP president Phil Dunkelberger paid tribute to the codebreakers of World War II and described the site as "the first step on the way to Silicon Valley. Everyone in computing owes a debt to those people."

PGP and IBM have donated $100,000 to the museum, and through the museum's website are helping with further fund-raising efforts. "We are putting out a clarion call to individuals and other corporations [to support the project]," said Dunkelberger.

Bletchley Park consists of a large house surrounded by a ramshackle collection of huts and single-storey buildings. The teams that worked in them, including computing pioneer Alan Turing, managed to decrypt German-coded messages, and have been credited with shortening the Second World War by two years.

One wooden hut, known as Hut 6, is in desperate need of repair, and currently has a tarpaulin covering its leaky roof. Simon Greenish, a director of Bletchley Park Trust, explained the hut's significance: "It is one of the most important temporary buildings of the 20th century. It is where code-breaking was turned from a cottage industry and put on an industrial scale. It changed the nature of warfare." At the height of the war, he said Hut 6 was "churning out 6,000 decrypts a day."

The new money from PGP and IBM will go towards the National Museum of Computing, which is located in one of the Bletchley Park buildings and includes the rebuilt Collossus code-breaking computer among its exhibits.

The museum needs to build a fund of £7 million to carry out all its plans, but Greenish said a further £10 million will be needed to restore the infrastructure of all the buildings at Bletchley Park and create all the educational material needed to make it a world-class visitor attraction.

Even in its present state, the centre attracted 3,500 visitors on the last Bank Holiday, although, as Greenish said, at the peak of the day the aging electricity supply to the kitchens failed.

He added that a US charitable body, the Sidney E. Frank Foundation, had committed to provide funds to restore Hut 6, and that some funding may come from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

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