Bletchley Park at once exemplifies the best and worst of British. As the base for mathematicians and linguists hastily assembled in the early days of the Second World War, it became the headquarters of this country's top-secret code-breaking operation. The model of ingenious making-do and unfussy getting on with things, it is credited with breaking the German Enigma codes and ending the war sooner than would otherwise have been the case. The technology developed there laid the foundations of computer science.
Once the war was over, however, much of the highly sensitive information and technology was destroyed in the name of national security. With former code-breakers sworn to secrecy, the pioneering work done at Bletchley received no public recognition until personal accounts began to appear a quarter of a century later. By then, the estate was in grievous disrepair.
In recent years, private and charitable efforts have helped the park to survive, and even open its unique collection to the public. But the venture remains amateur and poorly funded. Plans are afoot to site a national computer museum there – but no public money has been forthcoming.
This week more than 100 academics appealed for the cradle of British computer technology and its remarkable history to be given the credit they deserve. As they suggest, it would make sense for the site to be placed under the aegis of one or other of the major national museums. The same ingenuity that gave rise to Britain's code-breaking operation in the first place can surely find a way to preserve Bletchley's legacy for future generations.Reuse content