A landmark victory for the Bletchley Park Trust is today announced with a grant of £4.6 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) towards the regeneration of Bletchley Park.
The investment will enable the restoration of iconic Codebreaking Huts 1, 3 and 6 and create a world-class visitor centre and exhibition in the currently derelict Block C as soon as £1.7 million in match funding has been raised.
Not only will this development allow the conservation of buildings of highly-significant heritage value, it will considerably improve the educational offering and visitor experience at Bletchley Park.
Bletchley Park, home of the Codebreakers, is arguably one of Britain’s most important 20th century historical sites. When the Codebreakers wrote to Churchill, in October 1941, starved of resources to do their essential work, Churchill immediately ordered, “Action this day! Make sure they have all they want on extreme priority and report to me that this had been done”. Exactly seventy years on it is resonant that the Heritage Lottery Fund are doing as Churchill asked. Their decision will be welcomed by the millions of people in this country and abroad who have supported the Park’s restoration, and take pride in its achievements.
Bletchley Park helped to shape the course of the twentieth century by giving the allies a critical edge in WW2, and foreshadowing the technological revolution that was to follow. Throughout the war, against seemingly impossible odds and in total secrecy, the Bletchley Park Codebreakers systematically broke what was the backbone of Germany’s communications cypher system – Enigma – and the even more complex cypher system used by Hitler and his High Command – Lorenz. Most historians agree that Bletchley Park shortened the war by perhaps two years, saving countless lives and changing the shape of the world that emerged from it.
For twenty years the Bletchley Park Trust has been devoted to ensuring that its achievements are recognised and the site developed, both to inspire and educate generations to come and as a permanent testament to the remarkable people who made those achievements possible. During its post-war years of secrecy and neglect, Bletchley Park and many of its codebreaking huts and blocks quietly descended into near-dereliction; today they welcome 130,000 visitors a year. The ambition of the Bletchley Park Trust is to complete the restoration of the site, and to tell its story to the highest modern standards.
The late Professor Richard Holmes said, “The work here at Bletchley Park… was utterly fundamental to the survival of Britain and to the triumph of the West. I’m not actually sure that I can think of very many other places where I could say something as unequivocal as that. This is sacred ground. If this isn’t worth preserving, what is?” The Heritage Lottery Fund has now made a huge contribution to that process. The Bletchley Park Trust will now aim to work with other funding bodies to secure the match funding needed to let work begin.
Carole Souter, Chief Executive of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said, “The complex story of Bletchley Park revolves around a group of dedicated men and women who quietly worked away with no expectation of public recognition. Now, more than sixty years later, the Trust will bring to life fascinating tales of the ground-breaking work that took place in this sprawling country estate. I cannot think of a better use of Heritage Lottery Fund money than to support this project and, in so doing, honour the memory of all who were involved.”
Stephen Fry, British actor and author, welcomed the announcement saying, “Today marks a monumental triumph for the Bletchley Park Trust. This investment from the Heritage Lottery Fund will finally enable the Trust to do justice to this amazing place in tribute to the tremendous intellectual feat of those who worked there. Not only did these people alter the very course of history by helping to secure the allied victory, thereby quietly and modestly providing us with the free world, they also gave birth to the Information Age which underpins the way we all live today. HLF has ensured that recognition for these extraordinary accomplishments is finally in sight. Now we must all see that the Trust is given every support it needs in order to raise the match funding required to make this project a wonderful reality”.