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Cash Lifeline For Bletchley Park 63

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the hanging-on-by-a-thread dept.
Smivs writes "Bletchley Park, the home to the allied codebreakers during WWII, and a major computing heritage centre, has been given a financial lifeline, reports the BBC. The grant of £330,000 will be used to undertake urgent roof works as the rooms of the Grade II-listed mansion, replete with painted ceilings, timber panelling, and ornate plasterwork, are at risk because the roof has been patched rather than renovated so many times during the 130 years of the mansion's history. The donation follows efforts to highlight the dilapidated state of the huts and other buildings at Bletchley. Discussions are also in progress on a further three-year, £600,000 funding programme for the historic site. 'Bletchley Park played a fundamental role in the Allies winning the Second World War and is of great importance to the history of Europe,' said Dr Simon Thurley, chief executive of English Heritage."
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Cash Lifeline For Bletchley Park

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  • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Thursday November 06, 2008 @11:09AM (#25661189) Homepage
    You would think that the popularity of Cryptonomicon [amazon.com] among the public, nerds and not-so-nerdy people alike, would have translated into a bit more enthusiasm for preserving some of those old crypto legends. Did Stephenson himself ever issue a call for support?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Patchw0rk F0g (663145)

      Actually, I just re-read that recently. Not only does it add to the appreciation of what our fore-fathers were doing, but brings it up to date (at the time, at least) with what was/is current in cryptonography.

      I'm glad that Bletchley's getting a new lease on life. There is/was a museum in Oshawa, Ontario that was dedicated to the Canadian war effort, and had at one time information as to the efforts that we gave to similar code-breaking endeavours. As of time of writing, I think that's been over-grown by an

    • by Yvanhoe (564877) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @02:58PM (#25664831) Journal
      Maybe it would have worked better if he actually wrote a historical novel. I am aware that I am bashing a popular author here but, seriously, at this place and time things happened that were so incredible that there is no need to add all this crappy fictional things around real facts. Simon Singh's "The Code Book" is far more breathtaking and it is a history book.

      Heroism surrounded code breakers in Poland where the first mechanical algorithmic machines were made with the help of the secret services. Germany had their share of the game with their first programmable electronic device (some would call it a computer). The weirdness surrounding the decision of choosing an Indian language as American code (no, it was not because it was supposedly harder to break, but it was faster to have a native speaker of a code than a cryptographer who needed minutes to code even a short message). Bletchley recruitment effort that involved crosswords games, the sad story of Turing death cause by his mandated anti-homosexuality treatment, Yamamoto's death possible because of a message interception and so on...

      WWII is so full of facts and anecdotes that trading them for a fictional content can only look tasteless...
    • That was my immediate reaction too. The book seriously rocks!

  • I'm glad to see that war heritage sites are not just being allowed to fall by the way side. They need to be preserved AND used.
  • Lame. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by macthulhu (603399) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @11:19AM (#25661363)
    Seems to me that some of the guys running the big tech companies should kick in a little something... Given Bletchley's place in computing history, Gates, Jobs, et al should throw them a bone. Even in this economy, Gates could probably fund it himself without really noticing a hit in his wallet.
    • Re:Lame. (Score:5, Informative)

      by 1stvamp (662375) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @11:33AM (#25661607) Homepage

      The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation refused to offer any support to Bletchley earlier this year.
      http://it.slashdot.org/it/08/05/16/1225225.shtml [slashdot.org]

    • IBM already has.
  • by David Gerard (12369) <slashdot AT davidgerard DOT co DOT uk> on Thursday November 06, 2008 @11:20AM (#25661385) Homepage
    Where do Slashdotters send their $5/10/20 or £5/10/20 then?
    • by dpoulson (132871) <daz@@@22balmoralroad...net> on Thursday November 06, 2008 @11:31AM (#25661575) Homepage Journal

      To donate via paypal go here:

      http://www.bletchleypark.org.uk/content/paypal-donate.rhtm [bletchleypark.org.uk]

      or by WorldPay:

      http://www.bletchleypark.org.uk/shop/changeDonate.rhtm [bletchleypark.org.uk]

      No excuses. If you live in the UK, go for a visit. Fantastic place full of great exhibits.

      Darren.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 06, 2008 @12:24PM (#25662469)

        I second that. When I made it there after a business trip, I really wished I had more time. There is so much to browse it's hard to fit into an afternoon. The volunteers that give the tour are great...highly recommend it. They, however, wouldn't answer my question about if they used the enigma to insert messages, orders, or replies to any of the Germans in order to confuse them (-:

        They didn't have the Bombe replica running when I was there, really wanted to see that.

        The best thing they did have was a complete working replica of the Colossus Mark 2 up and running. This thing was build by volunteers that reconstructed it purely from pictures and from the memories of women who ran it during the war. It filled a room and kept it at 80+ degrees in there. It was built to decipher messages from the Lorenz machine, and it did it faster than optimized decryption software running on a Pentium II. There's definitely something to be said for optimized hardware.

        They were in the process of re-opening a national computing museum or something of the like, so hopefully that's an exhibit there now as well.

        And not that the walk around town wasn't nice, but take a right on the street in front of the station you get off at if you ride the rail to get there (-:

      • by VShael (62735) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @12:46PM (#25662903) Journal

        If you live in the UK, go for a visit. Fantastic place full of great exhibits.

        I've been. They have a cool computer museum there.

        And let me tell you, NOTHING in the world can make you feel as old as being in frakin museum and finding yourself saying "I remember those!"

        Just ask John McCain.

        • by mollymoo (202721)

          I went a few weeks ago. The old computers are very cool, they don't have a lot of cash for fancy displays and so on, so you wander through something resembling a warehouse full of old *nix machines, ranks of huge disk drives more closely resembling a lauderette than a storage array, a room full of old personal computers you can have a go on and relive you youth - Commodore Pet, C64, Spectrum, BBC Micro, TRS-80, Amiga 500, Atari ST and more. Cases full of old PDAs, laptops and calculators. Awesome stuff for

      • by WGR (32993)

        My wife and I visited Bletchley Park at the beginning of October. I bought a book containing short biographies of many of the codebreakers. Along with Alan Turing, a number of these people were important in setting up computer research labs after the war, including the Manchester University "Baby" computer, which was the first all electronic stored program computer. Another, Gordon Welchman, was one of the first lecturers n computer science at MIT and was one of the dsigners of the Whirlwind computer. Willi

      • by Niggle (68950)

        No excuses. If you live in the UK, go for a visit. Fantastic place full of great exhibits.
        I'm ashamed to say that, despite being born less than 2 miles from the place and still having family in the area, I've never been.
        I'll be handing in my geek card shortly.

    • by eln (21727) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @11:36AM (#25661659) Homepage

      $5/10/20

      It's nice that you want to help, but I don't think sending 2.5 cents is really going to have that much of an effect on the project.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by houstonbofh (602064)

        $5/10/20

        It's nice that you want to help, but I don't think sending 2.5 cents is really going to have that much of an effect on the project.

        Perhaps, but given the economy, those 2.5 cents in todays dollars will be $30 in 2012 dollars. Not sure if this is actually funny, or terrifying. I'll let the mods decide.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by N. Criss (961443) *
        Maybe not individually, but if you could turn even a tiny fraction of the typical Slashdot effect into a donation effect then as a community we could make a very big difference. I just gave 5GBP, which PayPal calculated as just over $8 US. Any other nerds willing to help out?
  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @11:24AM (#25661447) Homepage Journal

    Hey Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Intel.
    Each of you are swiming in cash and this is your history.
    Why not pony up some bucks for History.
    While your at it the Apollo 1 launch pad is also fading away.

    • by Quantos (1327889)
      They tried to donate, but when they ran the address through their decryption software they couldn't make heads or tails of it.
    • ...that just spent US$73 million dollars [sfgate.com] arguing over Proposition 8 - should there be same sex marriage in the state of California.

      I'm not American, or gay, but it fucking shits me when I see this sort of money being thrown around - in the middle of this epic credit crisis, no less - over something as utterly trivial as whether or not gay people can get married, when there's actual, serious, important things all over the world that get practically no funding.

      I don't know how much money came from where but t

      • Not that I disagree with your views, but try to remember they are *your* views. Gay marriage, whether you're for or against, is a lot more important and relevant to some people than saving Bletchley. Not to me, I'm a geek, but we have to accept other people's right to believe and support what they want, just as we expect to not have others views imposed on us. The world needs some tolerance of others a lot more than it needs money.
        • by trawg (308495)

          Gay marriage, whether you're for or against, is a lot more important and relevant to some people than saving Bletchley.

          I know, that's what I'm lamenting about. It seems to me that it would be "better" (in an as-objective-as-I-can-be sense of the word) for people to care more about preserving historical artifacts, buildings, etc. The case can certainly be made that Bletchley isn't exactly a Parthenon or a Pyramid, but it has a pretty significant place in world history (I know I am biased on this building in particular as a bit of a WW2 nerd).

          The world needs some tolerance of others a lot more than it needs money.

          Totally agree - starting with tolerance of gays would be a great start if it woul

      • by sponga (739683)

        Why don't they take all the crypto machines and other stuff in the house, donate it to the Smitsonian or other large British museums where they could be on display for many more people to see than some rickety old house out in the middle of nowhere. Hell do a world tour of the stuff and setup mock rooms to display the stuff with fake dolls manning the machines and audio clips playing of an incoming air raid, get some attention and media coverage on the stuff.

        It just seems like this history is in the wrong l

        • by LWATCDR (28044)

          1. I am not from the UK.
          2. Bletchley Park is where it is. Moving it doesn't make a lot of sense to me.
          3. Think about the amount we are talking about. A new Roof? Google spends that on free soda, Microsoft on one really dumb ad, and Apple on???
          We are talking about nest to nothing. And Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Intel all make money and sell products in the UK so they are already there.

  • by smooth wombat (796938) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @11:50AM (#25661879) Homepage Journal

    You would never suspect that everyone at this school is a professional dancer.

    *ba dum bump*! TING!

    Seriously though, it's funny how the British government (among others), can find tens of billions, if not trillions, of dollars to bail out private businesses who are failing due to the incompetence of those running those businesses yet, it can't find a few meager thousands of dollars to repair one building who helped save its own hide.

    Just goes to show where priorities lie.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by iamapizza (1312801)
      No it isn't funny, it makes sense.

      A government's priorities lie with immediate issues, not with entities that won't have an immediate effect. Saving Bletchley park is a matter of sentimentality and history and a government or corporation has every right to choose to ignore it - I'd rather they spent their efforts at least talking about the current economic crisis than helping a WW relic. When things are better, that'd be the time to look at anything else.

      Conversely, if the government decided to give
      • A government's priorities lie with immediate issues, not with entities that won't have an immediate effect.

        Which is of course, typically short-sighted of every government. Sure, Blethley won't have any immediate or long-term effect on the country's operation, but it is because of Bletchley Park that GB even exists.

        If we're going to say that historical buildings/sites such as Bletchley should be left to rot, then why bother having any historical organizations at all? Places such as the Arizona memor

    • The difference being that going on past experience the billions dumped into banking will pay a healthy profit (eventually...)

      But museums represent our past *and* our future once they are gone they are gone forever ....

    • by Kingrames (858416)
      Not that programmers are much more sentimental.

      What do you do with the sticks of RAM that you no longer need?
      What about your old 386's or 486's, or laptops?

      Mine are in the junkyard or lying around in much the same state of disrepair as i'm sure Bletchley was.

      But in any event, yes, this place needs to be protected.
    • by Smauler (915644)

      The trouble with preserving everything of cultural importance in the UK is that there are so many buildings that fall into this category. Victorian churches are knocked down all the time, just because there's not the money to keep them up. Restoration [bbc.co.uk] was a program recently on the BBC, with loads of good causes which ideally should have been restored, but there's just no cash for it.

      ps. the BBC website seems to be down ATM, no idea why.

  • When you see some of (frankly) SHIT that the National Lottery in the UK funds, it's mind boggling to me that they haven't ponied up some cash for this site already.

    Maybe as a Lottery, they feel a deep resentment for anyone who is good at math? I don't know.

  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @12:45PM (#25662891) Homepage

    I've visited Bletchley Park. It's a nice day trip out from London. The actual exhibits aren't that extensive. They have a few Enigmas, a fancier version with twelve rotors and a teletype machine interface, some replica bombes (some from a movie), the replica Colossus, and a collection of minor crypto-related items. The whole collection would fit in a corner of the Imperial War Museum.

    It's a big country estate that needs to be maintained. There's a manor house, a lake with swans, some outbuildings, and the remainder of the famous "huts". There's far too much real estate for the exhibits. The technical exhibits aren't in the manor house at all. The manor house is used for conferences and such. The upkeep on all that real estate is the problem.

    It's nice that it's being maintained, but there's not that much to see there.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Dude! Your idea of what the word "museum" means is skewed by the fact that you're familiar with the museums of what is possibly the #1 museum location in the world, London. Bletchley Park is a fine museum with plenty of exhibits and reconstructed wartime rooms including actual Enigma machines and teletypes, reconstructed Bombes and an amazing reconstruction of Colossus. You get to see the actual buildings in which WWII cryptography took place including the huts. You also get a guided tour full of interestin
    • by mollymoo (202721)

      When did you go? I went a few weeks ago and of specific geek interest there was also the computing museum and a collection of more modern crypto machines. Then there are all the WWII military and home-front exhibits, the amateur radio stuff, the wartime cinema stuff, model railway stuff, the "Pigeons at War" exhibit and more.

      Some of the exhibits are only open on certain days, so you may have been unlucky on the day you went and missed out on a lot, but there really is a lot more there than you seem to have

  • Please keep an eye on your roofing contractors, so they don't burn it down like happened with David Garrick's 18th century mansion.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 06, 2008 @02:17PM (#25664239)

    Bletchley Park (I have some VAXen that went through you at one point, and we'll both pretend you crushed the media... ;-) is the father of GCHQ [gchq.gov.uk], the British sorta-NSA. It would not, of course, dream of allocating any part of its budget to the memory of its intellectual founders, because it differs from Bletchley in one important respect: Bletchley fought a real war against a real threat to the nation.

    On the off-chance that the guys that jumped into the Service from the same crappy minor public school I went to are reading this: sorry to hear you weren't good enough to get into the City, and let Ulbricht serve as your modest guide to the new century. No matter what you achieve, your old schoolchums will always know that you did it because you weren't bright enough to do anything more creative.

    • This to the people who invented public key cryptography and an implementation of RSA (and kept it secret, of course) decades before the public did? And you're comparing them to the incompetent City bankers who (despite their skilled ancestors of the nineteenth century) bought up all those bad loans? For shame.
  • Bletchley staff (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Kittenman (971447)
    Back in the '80s, my Dad and stepmother were watching a TV show on Bletchley here in NZ. During the adverts, My Dad mentioned that he'd been there (minor capacity - probably a clerk, but lord knows). Turns out that my stepmother was there too, different dates.

    What I thought interesting was that they didn't talk about it for at least 40 years after the work there. The security aspect, and war reticence, I guess.

  • Hi all,

    I'm the person that went to Bletchley Park in July, got really annoyed at the state of the huts etc. got 97 signatures from UK Heads and Professors of Computing, sent in a letter to the Times and ended up on the BBC (which was a bit nerve racking to say the least).

    The EH money is a great first step towards saving BP, but loads more funding needs to be found. You can help with this by talking to friends/colleagues etc. about it and forwarding the URL for my campaign blog which gives a lot more deta

Numeric stability is probably not all that important when you're guessing.

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