SOS Bletchley Park

A very significant part of our computing and national heritage – Bletchley Park – is in dire need of the industry’s help.

At the time Simon Greenish, director of Bletchley Park Trust, added: "Britain has got something to be proud of in the saving of this building."

Big cash injection needed

But the reinvigoration of Hut 8 was not cheap. It took nine months of hard graft and almost half a million pounds to come about. There are other huts and parts of Bletchley Park in desperate need of repair too, meaning preserving history won't come cheaply.

Just a few months ago, the trust resorted to selling old slates from its roof in order to raise money. It's a sorry state of affairs that shouldn't have been allowed to happen. Rather than lamenting over what hasn't occurred, the industry has a real and urgent responsibility to preserve the place that essentially gave birth to it.

World War II has many unsung heroes included among them many women who worked at Bletchley to crack the German's code. The British Computer Society (BCS) recently tried to capture their stories for prosperity.

"The whole caboodle [stands out]," one former Bletchley Park worker told the BCS. "It was a lovely time but a sad time at the same time. And you made friends and it was funa lot of it. It was such an amazing bit out of my life that I can't think of anything else like it."

Fondly talking about how her grandchildren reacted when she told them of her work during the war, she added: "Their nickname for me is The Mole!'"

Listening to the audio files is one way of feeling closer to history but, unless the industry sits up and takes notice, it could soon be the only way. For, if Bletchley Park is allowed to die, its memories may fade away with it.

Championing the cause

Dr Sue Black, head of the information and software systems department at the University of Westminster's Harrow School of Computer Science and chair of BCS Women, has been championing the cause of helping the park to return to its former glory. The site is very close to her heart as she is trying to level the playing field for women working in technology and the work carried out by females at Bletchley Park is a key point in case. But that's not the only reason she wants to see it preserved for the future.

"It's an amazing place. You get an amazing sense of what went on there just from walking around. You don't have to be there very long to get the feeling that it's a very remarkable place. Most people working there were women. That got my interest as I'm very passionate about women in technology," she said.

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