BT saves Station X for exploitation
10 June 1999
It was five years ago today... The recent 50th anniversary of the death of Alan Turing reminded us of a time when Milton Keynes District Council threatened to do to Bletchley Park, aka Station X, what the Luftwaffe never could - reduce it to rubble:
By Tony Smith
Published Thursday 10th June 1999 14:57 GMT
Bletchley Park, site of the British successful attempts to crack Nazi cyphers during World War 2 and old stomping ground of this reporter, is finally destined to become a crypto theme park.
Today, Bletchley Park Trust chairman Sir Philip Duncombe announced that British Telecom and land-owning quango Pace have saved the site for the Nation from the clutches of the local authority, Milton Keynes District Council. Milton Keynes, famous for its cornflake box school of architecture and possessor of one of the highest young male suicide rates in the country, had considered turning the home of the world's first electronic computer into prime development land.
However, thanks to funding from BT and Pace, the Bletchley Park Trust will be able to buy the site and turn it into a major heritage centre. BT and Pace will own the site, originally known by its codename, Station X, and lease it for a 250-year period to the Trust. While we welcome the preservation of this important national - nay, international - monument, we can't help be worried by the dreaded phrase 'heritage centre'.
If it's anything like most such locations in the tourist-tempting British Isles, visitors can expected to be hawked Alan Turing Towel Sets, Wolfpacks of Biscuits, Bletchley Baseball Hats, Colossus Cream Teas, the Admiral Doenitz Bouncy Castle and other such tat.
Mercifully, Bletchley Park has not become a cryptographical theme park, but a rather more sober affair rightly celebrating the work of the many codebreakers who worked there. Indeed, we suspect that any wearing any form of baseball cap will not be welcome at the forthcoming Enigma Ball on 12 June, and quite right too.
What's more, Station X now boasts a replica of the original Colossus - and there isn't a cream tea in sight. ®