Bletchley Park Trust needs £10m to restore code-breaking site

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The Independent Online

The Bletchley Park Trust plans to turn the historic site into an internationally-recognised visitor centre with restored buildings, an authentic 1940s atmosphere and gardens the public can enjoy free of charge.

But implementing the plan and saving the site, the dilapidated state of which was highlighted in The Independent this week, will cost £10m. That money would bring new life to the decaying park near Milton Keynes, where some of Britain's finest minds hastened the defeat of the Nazis with their code-breaking.

A key element of the plan is the restoration of all wartime buildings – from the badly-damaged decoders' wooden huts to the stable block – to regain their authentic 1940s style. Nothing will be demolished and there will be no new buildings. Fresh investment will be put into the education service, including in mathematics and the popular children's code-breaking programmes.

Initial estimates suggest that about £5m would be needed to modernise the main museum, establish it in one site and make it a competitive international visitor attraction, with touch-screen displays allowing visitors to interact with the site's history. The museum section, at present scattered in between commercial buildings for business use, would be "consolidated" into a single section.

A further £5m would go towards improving infrastructure. The abandoned drains and power supplies, dating back to before the Second World War, need complete overhauls.

The system of roads around the park would be restructured, providing controlled public access to large sections of the park. Ambitious plans are also under way to restore the main building.

The trust points out that Bletchley is the last site in Britain in which a country house was converted to war use but has not been converted back.

The new plans were revealed as politicians began mobilising behind The Independent's campaign to save the park. Denis MacShane, the former Labour Europe minister who is backing it, has written to Sir Patrick Cormack, the Tory chairman of the all-party Arts and Heritage group in the Commons, to co-ordinate a trip to Bletchley Park.

The park's trust has confirmed it is drawing up an application for funds from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Mr MacShane has also pledged to raise the matter in Parliament next month.

A range of public figures and politicians, including Robert Harris, the author of Enigma, which was based on the code-breakers, the broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby and former and shadow ministers have backed the campaign this week.

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