A rambling mansion at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire was the home of the wartime code-breakers, where the Enigma riddle was unravelled in the biggest single intelligence blow against Hitler's Nazi forces.
But the Millennium Fund turned down an appeal by the Bletchley Park Trust for funds to turn the site into a permanent museum. Historians believe that the site, sold to British Telecom, urgently needs preserving for the nation, and now John Major has stepped in.
The Prime Minister has sent a thinly coded message to the Millennium Fund and the trust supporters to resubmit a proposal which will be acceptable. "Bletchley is very important and I know they are redesigning a lottery application.
"I think they applied in the wrong fashion last time. They are now reapplying and I think they will put in a very powerful bid... The first thing is to see if they are successful in their bid to the lottery. Clearly, it is a very important place and I think everyone would wish it success."
The trust supporters met Virginia Bottomley, the Secretary of State for National Heritage , last week to protest at the failure of their bid for millennium funding from lottery money. She told campaigners that Bletchley was of "great historical value for the nation and I share the understandable public concern for the future of the place".
Mrs Bottomley insisted the decision did not rest with ministers. "Decisions on it are made by the National Heritage Memorial Fund trustees and not the Government." But she "hoped a way would be found to save Bletchley Park and its collection of wartime artefacts for the nation".
Those campaigning for Bletchley to be preserved include Robert Harris, author of the novel Enigma, which is being turned into a Hollywood film.
Writing in the Daily Mail, he said: "Bletchley is not - at least not yet - a ruin. Visitors can see the mansion into which the code-breakers moved in 1939 and the out-buildings in which Alun Turing and Gordon Welchman later designed the `bombe' - the huge de-crypter which broke the Nazis' Enigma ciphers."
Visitors can also see the famous wooden huts in which the code-breakers worked and a running replica of Colossus, the world's first programmable computer, which has been reassembled to the original plans, and which helped to break the Nazi codes.Reuse content