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Bletchley Park Faces Financial Rescue 60

Posted by timothy
from the admirable-work-deserves-commemoration dept.
biscuitfever11 writes "Just two months ago it seemed that Bletchley Park, the home of Station X, Britain's secret code-breaking base during the War, was doomed as the codebreakers' huts rotted and the site fell into disrepair. But today Britain's Lottery Fund is set to step in with a grant to rescue the ailing heritage site. (There was an earlier story on ZDNet.)"
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Bletchley Park Faces Financial Rescue

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  • Faces? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Halo1 (136547) <jonas.maebe@NospAm.elis.ugent.be> on Sunday July 06, 2008 @06:18AM (#24073859) Homepage

    I wish I has to face getting a lot of money from the lottery...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Britains voluntary tax on the mathematically challenged and the poor
    run for profit by a US Company naturally

  • by thermian (1267986) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @06:33AM (#24073913)

    This won't solve the one big issue facing Bletchley, that of the site having very low appeal to visitors.

    As much as they might wish it to be otherwise, a collection of huts (one of which is now a tea room, ah yes, nice treatment of history there guys...), a house, some vintage cars and a few cluttered rooms of junk that pass for 'exhibits' just doesn't appeal to people these days.

    And yes, they really do look like rooms full of junk for the most part, sad to say, the presentation of their exhibits is not good at all.

    Oh, and the reconstructed Collossus? It's just there, in the middle of a room, with barely any information top help kids or the otherwise uninformed relate to it.

    Not that the site isn't ok to visit. If you're into WW2 stuff then its probably worth a look, but if you've got kids they will be bored out of their tiny minds all day.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by McSnarf (676600) *
      It might not be the flashiest of exhibits, but these people are on a VERY small budget. (Unlike, e.g. the National Air and Space Museum.) It's well worth visiting - if not for small kids. And buy a bit of roof when you are there :)
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 06, 2008 @07:06AM (#24074039)

      Are we talking about the same place? My wife and I went last week and ended up going on two consecutive days. It was absolutely brilliant - Colossus was up and running and we were given a talk through it by one of the re-build team. We also talked to them about the Tunny machine they are working on and the Heath Robinson they're also re-building despite the fact it never actually worked. There are also working bomb machines and very knowledgeable staff all other the site. I would have liked more technical detail then was easily available but I really did think it was excellent. Do a tour if you go and/or get an audio wand.

      • by thermian (1267986) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @07:17AM (#24074073)

        I went last year and the Collossus was on its own, switched off, with only a small panel of text. Perhaps they've improved that part, or perhaps its not on every day.

        What I did see was a lot of bored kids faces, and my son had no interest whatsoever, even though I tried to engage him.

        The stuff I found interesting took less than an hour to see, after which it was try and get interested in what remained on the site to get my money's worth.

        It's not that they aren't trying, its just that its not that interesting unless you already know something of the history. It most certainly isn't managing to compete as a venue for visitors, or it wouldn't have got into fiscal trouble to start with.

    • by digitig (1056110) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @07:13AM (#24074061)

      (one of which is now a tea room, ah yes, nice treatment of history there guys...)

      I bet one of them was a tea-room during WWII, too, although they would have called it a canteen then.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by thefon (718807)
      I went there about two years ago, it was fascinating. I _liked_ how the exhibits are mostly "as is". Too many museums try to look cool, but I'm there to see the history, not a rock concert. The guides and lectures told me a lot about the history and mathematics, some smart and interesting people. The whole place is a /. mecca!
    • In the US we don't seem to have much interest in our technological past. These days we seem to value museum exhibits to the extent that we can "brand" them to advertise the donor corporation. This sale to corporations of cultural artifacts and institutions for use as vehicles for advertising is everywhere. Everything from art exhibits to sports arenas are defaced with logos. Twenty years ago the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago had a really neat collection of IBM first-generation computing hardware

      • by gardyloo (512791)

        In the US we don't seem to have much interest in our technological past.

        Perhaps, but compared to the museums I saw in China a few years ago, the entire US is a veritable Smithsonian. For example, I was quite excited to visit the Xi'an Terra Cotta Warriors museum. It was laid out relatively well, but there were almost *no* explanations of anything you could see, in either Chinese or English. People would wander around, looking very quickly, but it was almost impossible to learn anything there. *Why* was a gold bowl of interest? It was beautiful, but did it belong to an Emperor?

  • A happy ending (Score:4, Interesting)

    by damburger (981828) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @06:56AM (#24073985)
    I am glad these historic buildings have been saved - the disrespect they had been shown drew uncomfortable parallels with what happened to Alan Turing after the war (a war which almost certainly wouldn't have been won without him)
  • Cryptonomicon (Score:4, Informative)

    by FilterMapReduce (1296509) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @07:04AM (#24074021)
    Most Slashdotters probably don't need to be told this, but anyone interested in historical fiction about Bletchley Park shouldn't miss Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson [wikipedia.org]. It's entertaining and rich in technical detail.
    • by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @08:58AM (#24074501)
      Most Slashdotters probably don't need to be told this, but anyone interested in historical fact about Bletchley Park shouldn't miss Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges. It's entertaining, rich in technical detail and, wait for it, true.
    • Stephenson's detailed descriptions are VERY vivid. His extrapolation of historical characters demeanor from actual events are insightful --- Especially General Yamamoto's final moment of global realization in his crashing airplane. I was always curious though of how faithful Stephenson was to the actual layout (e.g. various connecting huts, interior layouts, etc)? Anybody on /. walk through Bletchley Park and visualize the elements in Cryptonomicon?
    • by 91degrees (207121)
      There were some nice ideas in that book, many of them fanciful for storytelling reasons. Robert Harris's Enigma [wikipedia.org] is also a rather enjoyable novel, and much stronger on historical accuracy.
    • Most Slashdotters probably don't need to be told this, but anyone interested in historical fiction about Bletchley Park shouldn't miss Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson [wikipedia.org]. It's entertaining and rich in technical detail.

      I also recently (re)read "Station X" by Michael Smith, which gives first hand accounts of some of the many thousands of people who worked there. There's not a lot on the actual code breaking techniques, but it is, none the less, an interesting read (IMHO).

      BTW: I visited Bletchley Park some years ago and found it quite interesting and this was before they had finished building a Bombe and Collosus.

      BTW2: After the Station X TV series aired, I was amazed to find out that neighbour had actually worked there as

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I took a class of learning disabled children to Bletchley Park a few years back - we had a great time trying on gas masks and stuff. Not a lot of money in that though, and it's not something they could easily let millions of people do. Having said that we also went to the Imperial War Museum in London - and it wasn't a patch on the Bletchley experience, and they seem to make it work.

    The wooden huts surrounding a stately home are very much part of the deal - you can't really get rid of them : They really are

  • by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @07:48AM (#24074191)
    You wouldn't believe we were once world leaders in the field.

    I'm sorry, but if the nest we can do is Rockstar (not knocking them, just being realistic) then will the last systems designer in the UK please turn off the server before emigrating? Fortunately, I expect to retire in a couple of years. Hopefully to somewhere where Government and other systems work.

    Slightly off topic, today we discovered that the UK Government new release of the on-line tax system shows the accountant name, not the actual person for whom the form is being filled in. The guy on the help desk, when asked when it would be fixed, replied "I am not at liberty to disclose that". Not only is UK Government IT incompetent, it is secretive about it. (The Editor of Computer Weekly said that on the box last week.) So

  • It's too bad something like this has to be paid for with a regressive tax like the lottery. There's no reason why the poor should pay a disproportionate amount of the upkeep of this place.
    • Culture (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Morosoph (693565)

      There's certainly an irony in using lottery income to fund culture.

      But there's a bigger issue here: whether culture has intrinsic value, and whether it is worth raising people up. If we fund education for its effect in raising the consciousness of the population, we should also fund culture out of general taxation. All the same, given that the lottery fund is used for cultural promotion, Bletchley Park has a pretty good claim on a slice of that funding.

      One almost wonders whether lottery funding is part o

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by couchslug (175151)

      To hell with the poor! Intelligent people, not idiot slugs, got us where we are today. Enough with the tiresome worship of poor people, who by and large are poor because of personal defects. The poor, and the backwardness they wallow in, are not worthy of anything but scorn and contempt.

      A memorial to the accomplishments of determined and intelligent people funded by a the stupid is fine with me.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by owlnation (858981)

        To hell with the poor! Intelligent people, not idiot slugs, got us where we are today.

        I agree. And in the UK specifically, that was true up to about the 1960s. Since then the poor have been getting more power, more say, more pandering, and there's more of them. Actually none of them are even genuinely, technically, poor any more. But since the late 60s the UK has been in steady decline. Now we have the fattest, drunkenest and most violent children in Europe, if not the World. That's what happens when you

    • It's too bad something like this has to be paid for with a regressive tax like the lottery. There's no reason why the poor should pay a disproportionate amount of the upkeep of this place.

      If money is already available as part of the lottery system, why should it not be used? Since money is already set aside, with the way the lottery system was set out, heritage should be one of the places receiving money. Nothing is stopping from other people pitching in separate to the lottery money allocation, but it does

  • mislead? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by peektwice (726616) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @08:56AM (#24074485)
    I guess the statement "We haven't put in an application yet" was missed by the OP. Bletchley isn't being rescued yet. They are in discussions preceding an application for the grant.
  • LOTTERY!?!?! (Score:2, Insightful)

    I read the comments to this article just to get a joke along the lines of:

    Oh the irony! A tax on those who are bad at math funding the history of the greatest mathematicians of WWII.

    I am sorely disappointed, slashdotters. Was it too easy? Surely I'm not the only one that laughed at the though?

    • I'm a maths graduate myself, but I always feel a bit peeved that Turing and the mathematicians get all the attention whenever Bletchley Park is mentioned.

      The actual design and build of the big machines was done by an engineer called Tommy Flowers [wikipedia.org], which introduces further semi-ironic coincidence as he was also responsible for designing and building ERNIE [wikipedia.org], the machine behind an earlier UK Government-run numbers racket

  • Hut 33 (Score:2, Informative)

    by grizzlycub (687950)
    Well there must be some interest about Bletchley in the UK; BBC Radio 4 has run two seasons of "Hut 33" a comedy about Bletchley. It's a typical WWII BBC comedy; Polish jokes, German spies, class warfare, and smutty jokes.
  • by MinusOne (4145) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @01:04PM (#24075969)

    I visited Bletchley Park a couple of years ago while on a trip to England. it was an easy day trip from London. The site is a very short walk from the train station, so no driving or bus is necessary to get there. It was a beautiful spring day when we were there and the grounds are quite lovely. They had the Colossus replica running which was very cool. The museum is quite nice as well. Later that night I met up for beers with some guys from my company's London office. They were shocked that we had made a day trip to Milton Keynes until we told them why we went. Apparently Londoners think of the area as a bit of a suburban wasteland.
    I also got some cool semi-psychedelic pictures caused by a malfunctioning sensor in my digital camera.

    I definitely recommend it as a place to visit if you have an afternoon in the greater London area.

  • There's no money from the government (aka taxpayers) to pay to keep this historic place open, but somehow there is £18,000,000,000 of taxpayer cash for an Olympic games nobody wanted (except freeloaders, crooked politicians and builders).

  • http://tinyurl.com/5lsa2x [tinyurl.com]

    I took these in March of 2007.

    • 500 - Internal Server Error This server has encountered an internal error. Follow these instructions: change the domain name that appears in the URL in the address bar of your web browser from tinyurl.com to b.tinyurl.com and leave everything else the same. Press the "go" button or hit the return key to be redirected to the page the TinyURL you followed goes to. We apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused you.
  • The summary is way off-beam. The Heritage Lottery Fund is nowhere near stepping in.

    I quote: '"We are in serious discussions with the Heritage Lottery Fund. This is prime Lottery territory," said Greenish. "We haven't put in an application yet, but the rules have changed a bit which is helpful."'

    Here's how HLF works. You put the application in. This is serious, serious hard work. It's not just "fill in a form and post it to PO Box Lottery". Expect to have a full-time team working on it for three months at le

  • As another Slashdotter pointed out, the main problem with the site, which one grant won't permanently fix, is that its inherent appeal is not as great as a big modern attraction such as a theme park or similar. Yet the site has great historical and emotional, and even personal value to anyone whose parents or grandparents fought in the war. It is a really crucial site, and as such many people would be interested in keeping it running.

    So is it possible to keep the site running on a more long-term basis by

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