Disharmony at Bletchley Park

There’s something rotten in the state of Bletchley, but exactly what is up for debate. A BBC News film crew brought – frankly, much-needed – light on internal disputes between the Bletchley Park Trust, which operates the bulk of the Park, and the CodesandCiphers Trust, which operates the National Museum of Computing (TNMOC) housed in Block H. Video footage of a long-time Bletchley Park Trust volunteer being apparently sacked secured the report a place on the national news, and has been responsible for more column inches than either party has ‘enjoyed’ in quite some time.

But what is actually going on?

First, a disclaimer: I’ve long been a supporter of both Trusts. I was responsible for – successful – efforts to raise funds in order for Bletchley Park Trust to buy unique Turing papers for public display, and I’ve often visited the Park; when I have done so, I have also visited the National Museum of Computing. For me, the two go hand-in-hand: the exhibitions on offer from the Bletchley Park Trust offer a key insight into the activities of the code-breakers during the war and an early look at the development of computers in general; TNMOC continues this story with its rebuild of the iconic Colossus machine, and brings the tale bang up-to-date with its collection of vintage and not-so-vintage computing devices.

To explain how relations between the two Trusts, which on the surface share the common goals of the preservation of history and providing public access to education, have become so poor – and, be aware, the animosity between the two is in no way new – requires a little history. Since the BBC aired its report on Friday, I’ve been speaking to Kevin Murrell of the CodesandCiphers Trust and Iain Standen of the Bletchley Park Trust, creating a list of agreed facts dating back to before TNMOC was ever founded – so, if you’ve got a spare few minutes, read on to see the background that no articles have yet reported.

  • In the early 2000s, a private collection of vintage computing known as Retrobeep was to be found in Bletchley Park’s Block H. Unfortunately, it was believed that the landowners – BT and PACE – planned to sell off the outer edges of the Park for residential development, including the land on which Block H stood.
  • Two volunteers involved in Retrobeep, Kevin Murrell and Tony Sale, sought to prevent the land being sold and applied to have Block H and Block D registered as Listed Buildings and thus protected from being demolished. The sale of other areas of land continued, and indeed have residential properties on today.
  • Using the listing as a delaying action, Murrell and Sale set up the CodesandCiphers Trust in order to turn the private Retrobeep collection into a charitable museum with official status. In 2005, The National Museum of Computing was founded and the Retrobeep name retired.
  • Bletchley Park Trust had planned to use Block H as its headquarters, but the CodesandCiphers Trust offered a £75,000 a year lease – agreed at a time of high rent and property prices and to last a 25-year period – to retain use of the building. This lease would also require the payment of utilities and service charges, with TNMOC estimating the average annual cost at over £100,000 per annum.
  • During the first few years of the lease, Bletchley Park Trust was unable to accurately assess the service charge and utilities owed by TNMOC due to issues including faulty electricity meters. Bletchley Park Trust would claim that TNMOC owed a £250,000 shortfall, a figure disputed by TNMOC. Both would later agree a lower figure, which has not been made public, to be paid by TNMOC no later than April 2014.
  • Bletchley Park Trust and TNMOC discussed joint ticketing, but could not agree terms. As a result, visitors paying the £15 entry fee to Bletchley Park are then requested to pay a maximum of £2 in order to see the Tunny and Colossus galleries, or £5 for entry to the whole of TNMOC. Previously, access to Tunny and Colossus had been free but TNMOC saw this as unsustainable while paying rent to Bletchley Park Trust.
  • Bletchley Park Trust reviewed the official tour with a view to reducing its time from 1h30m to an hour, by removing discussion of the Mansion’s architecture, the Leons, all private collections, and in particular the final portion of the tour which previously took in the Tunny and Colossus galleries at TNMOC. This was discussed with a panel of seven tour guides, who agreed to the changes – with at least one raising the proviso that a secondary tour, whether Bletchley Park Trust or TNMOC led, be offered covering Tunny and Colossus for those who want to continue on.
  • In December 2012, a letter is drafted which outlines these changes and in particular states “Guides will no longer take groups through the Colossus and Tunny galleries on this revised standard tour but can signpost TNMOC along with the shop, cafe etc from their finishing point on the oval.” This letter is distributed to all Bletchley Park Trust guides.
  • A reprint of the Bletchley Park Guidebook, available to purchase at entry or from the Gift Shop, removes any labelling for TNMOC and any other private collections or non-Trust exhibits on the rear map. TNMOC’s presence in Block H is mentioned in a single sentence on page 39, while Colossus is mentioned in historical context on pages 12-13 but with no hint it is available for viewing at TNMOC.
  • At the same time, selected private collections were contacted with a view to relocate to alternative buildings or leave entirely. Some left voluntarily rather than relocate. The Model Railway Exhibit from Hut 11a – built to house Bombe Machines during WWII – was outright asked to leave the Park, as was the Churchill Memorabilia Collection from the Teleprinter Hall. Plans for a ‘Community Museum’ that could house some or all of the above private collections were scrapped by Bletchley Park Trust as funding could not be found and nor was space available
  • With numerous new exhibitions, including the Harwell Dekatron restoration and a gallery on the history of software, visits to the whole of TNMOC have increased but numbers visiting the Colossus and Tunny galleries have fallen dramatically.
  • Bletchley Park Trust plans to build fencing which will separate the tenanted properties in the Park from the Trust-occupied buildings that form the Trust’s heritage tour, in order to pedestrianise the tour route and other guest thoroughfares. This will see Block H, and thus TNMOC, located outside the fenced region, with guests transitioning between the two through the Bletchley Park Visitor Centre.
  • Said fencing forms part of an £8 million plan for the Park, funded in part by a £4.6 million grant given to Bletchley Park Trust by the Heritage Lottery Fund. TNMOC receives no portion of this funding.
  • TNMOC relies entirely upon donations, gift shop sales and ticket sales to operate, and has received no funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and will not directly benefit from any of the proposed redevelopment plans or Bletchley Park Trust’s increased funding.
  • A Bletchley Park Trust volunteer tour guide was asked to vacate his post during the filming of a BBC News segment at the Park, bringing considerable publicity onto previously private disharmony between the two Trusts. The Trust states this was due to his repeated inability to stick to the official tour schedule.
  • Aired on Friday, the BBC News piece was removed from the website’s archive over the weekend but returned late Monday afternoon. Bletchley Park Trust denies making any request for its removal to the BBC. A radio piece on the same subject remains accessible through iPlayer, while the original televised report has been mirrored on YouTube.

Now, those are the facts on which both parties agree. Unfortunately, there are plenty of areas of disagreement – starting with what volunteer guides from the Bletchley Park Trust can and cannot do.

The Guides
According to the Trust, and highlighted in the letter of December 2012 provided by Iain Standen, while the tour no longer covers Tunny and Colossus – as well as other areas removed to shorten the tour, which was considered too long for elderly visitors – guides are actively encouraged to signpost TNMOC and the Colossus gallery at the end of the tour as continuing the story they have heard thus far. Several guides have, however, publicly indicated that they are expressly forbidden from doing so, and are instead to make no mention of TNMOC or Colossus.

The guide seen in floods of tears in the BBC’s filming was claimed to be removed as a result of ignoring that request. “They [Bletchley Park Trust] haven’t got a clue – they are ruining this place,” he told the news crew. “We [the guides] are all very upset about not being able to tell the story we want to.”

Although the Trust’s public policy is that guides are free to signpost TNMOC, Colossus, and the Computer Conservation Society-owned Bombe rebuild, some guides are claiming otherwise. Standen admits that the guide seen in the BBC report was “despite repeated requests, unwilling to deliver the tour in the agreed format; as a result we were no longer able to use his services as a guide,” although does not indicate how the guide varied from the agreed format.

Paul Evans, who has long acted as a volunteer guide for both Bletchley Park Trust and TNMOC, claims that fellow volunteers are actively discussed by Trust staff as “not fit for purpose.” A report in the Mature Times, written by an anonymous Trust volunteer, goes further and claims that Trust staff actively described modernisation plans as looking to “cull the old and infirm.”

The volunteers, the anonymous guide claims, are to be removed from their posts in favour of technology – multimedia guides, a combination of eReader and audio playback system currently being rolled out at the Park – and video clips hosted by paid, professional actors. “The intention is to eliminate any costs associated with volunteers,” it is claimed. “Highly trained and experienced tour guides will be replaced by minimally trained volunteers to cut out their travel expenses as they tend to come from further away, hardly a way to engage and motive the right people to give of their best.”

In short: while the Trust claims its modernisation plans are to be of benefit to visitors, its own guides – unpaid volunteers, it must be remembered, many of whom are experts in their field – see things very differently, leading to internal tensions that can explode as seen in the BBC’s report.

Joint Ticketing
The Colossus, available for daily viewing in Block H, is an integral part of the Bletchley Park story and handily bridges the gap between work done on devices like the Turing-Welchman Bombe and modern electronic computing. Previously taking up a 20 minute portion of the 90 minute Bletchley Park Trust tour, it’s a must-see exhibit for visitors – but one that fewer and fewer visitors are actually going to see.

Part of the problem comes from an inability for the two Trusts to agree on joint ticketing. The result is that visitors are asked to pay more on top of the £15 they’ve already paid to the Trust – something many have highlighted as a ‘bait-and-switch’ experience. Sadly, it’s also necessary: TNNOC’s whole funding comes from the £2 or £5 tickets – less for concessions – it sells to visitors, along with its small gift shop selection. It has received none of the Lottery funding given to Bletchley Park Trust, and receives no portion of the £15 gate money or any income from the popular on-site cafe.

The difference in income between the two Trusts is plain to see: publicly-accessible accounts for Financial Year 2012 show Bletchley Park Trust enjoying £3,837,438 income for an £834,583 net gain for the year, while the CodesandCiphers Trust filed just £331,162 in income for a net loss of £6,276 over the same period. The disparity in scale isn’t just financial, either: a large chunk of Bletchley Park Trust’s expenditure – £938,136 – is on paid staff equivalent to 42 full-time positions; the CodesandCiphers Trust, meanwhile, has a paid staff of just four who share a total staffing cost of just £20,866.

Bletchley Park Trust claims that TNMOC walked away from discussions on joint ticketing, which would see visitors buying a single ticket for access to both facilities with TNMOC receiving a portion of the cost; TNMOC denies this, stating that Bletchley Park Trust began adding new conditions to the agreement which were not germane to the matter at hand, and offered only a tiny fraction of the gate money. As a result, no agreement was reached – resulting in the split ticketing system both agree as an issue for visitors.

It has also been claimed by TNMOC that as one of the conditions of joint ticketing Bletchley Park Trust attempted to claim at least part ownership of the Colossus rebuild, on the grounds that it was constructed on Trust-owned property. This attempt, which Standen, who has only been in the role of chief executive these past two years, denies knowledge of, did not succeed. Last year, Bletchley Park Trust chair Sir John Scarlett addressed the issue in a public speech in which he attributed ownership of Colossus to TNMOC – although it is actually owned by Colossus Rebuild Limited with TNMOC holding a contract to display and run the device.

Advertising
No joint ticketing also means no joint marketing, and TNMOC has claimed that extends to its volunteers being banned from the Bletchley Park Trust ticket office. While it’s certainly true that the ticket office is staffed by Trust employees only and that TNMOC tickets must be purchased separately within Block H, Bletchley Park Trust has denied that it looks to exclude TNMOC and points to the existence of a – singular – poster in the office extolling the virtues of TNMOC.

Combined with the removal of TNMOC from the official guidebook’s map – whereas previous versions had it clearly labelled, with the logo of TNMOC hovering next to Block H with an arrow indicating its location – TNMOC clearly feels sidelined, and a part of the Trust’s modernisation plan detailed below is only going to make things worse.

The Fencing
Bletchley Park Trust claims that its plan to build fencing around its central buildings is part of a modernisation plan that seeks to improve the visitor experience, pointing to troubles visitors – elderly visitors in particular – have on areas with no pavement and narrow roads shared with cars. The fencing, the Trust claims, will keep cars and visitors separate to improve comfort and safety.

Sadly, the fence will not include outlying buildings – including Block H and TNMOC. As a result, as well as needing to buy a separate ticket when they get there guests will need to transition through the fence at the Bletchley Park Visitors Centre in order to reach Block H at all. TNMOC, naturally, feels that this is exclusionary and contrary to the bid placed in order to raise the Heritage Lottery Fund money for the works and will have a further detrimental effect on its visitor numbers. Its most vocal critics even have a historical counterpart for the plan: Checkpoint Charlie.

This is a tough one: during my visits to the Park, I’ve certainly had to dodge a car or two. The Park was never built as a museum; it was a working wartime facility, with many blocks being added on ad-hoc as requirements change. Pedestrianisation is, therefore, a good thing – but balkanisation isn’t.

TNMOC further claims that as part of its Heritage Lottery Fund bid, Bletchley Park Trust stated that the Colossus Rebuild was to be interpreted to the public as an integral part of the Bletchley Park story. TNMOC was not made aware of this, nor was it provided with a copy of the bid. It would later obtain a copy through a Freedom of Information Act request, bringing this claim – which flies in the face of building the fencing, removing Colossus from the tour and refusing joint ticketing – to light.

Conclusions
If you’ve read this far, then you’ve got a heck of a lot more background than any mainstream news report – or the press releases of both organisations – will offer. It breaks my heart to see the two Trusts at loggerheads, as I believe both are incredibly important to telling the story of British ingenuity both during the war and at the birth of modern computing.

Having reviewed the evidence – and I will be eternally grateful to both Iain Standen and Kevin Murrell for their time in discussing these matters with me – and having spoken to volunteers from both organisations, I believe that Bletchley Park Trust needs to review its position. Modernisation is good, but whizz-bang videos and pre-loaded Kindles can’t replace the passionate and knowledgeable expert volunteers that have given their time to the Trust over the years out of nothing more than a passion for the subject.

I also urge both parties to look again at joint ticketing; Bletchley Park Trust denies that it is looking to oust TNMOC from Block H, and if that’s the case then it has nothing to lose from agreeing a fair joint ticketing system with the CodesandCiphers Trust. Indeed, if TNMOC were to fold tomorrow Bletchley Park Trust would take a £100,000 annual hit to its finances – and while that may be peanuts to an organisation which pays a single member of its management staff between £70,000 and £80,000 a year, it’s money that could be spent improving the experience for all.

I would especially ask Bletchley Park Trust to look at the way it is communicating its goals and plans to its volunteers. Whether or not it’s true that guides are being removed from service by simply mentioning non-Trust exhibits or as a result of their age, that’s how the guides feel – and that feeling, previously bubbling under the surface, is now public. The Trust has benefited immeasurably from the expertise and manpower of its volunteers over the years; now its funding is finally looking more stable, it’s vitally important that their contribution isn’t overlooked in the name of modernisation.

In the days that followed the BBC’s emotive report, there were various calls to ‘boycott Bletchley;’ I’m not going to join the call to arms. Bletchley Park is an important piece of world history, and should not suffer. That said, I will be concentrating my future efforts to raise funds for The National Museum of Computing, as in doing so not only will I be helping to secure its future but, thanks to the £100,000 a year lease it holds with the Trust, I’ll be financially contributing to Bletchley Park’s future too.

If you want to join me in this, the TNMOC website has details of how to donate money or become a personal member along with opening times for the museum itself – which, if you weren’t aware, can be visited without paying the £15 gate charge to Bletchley Park Trust.

71 comments

  1. Howard C says:

    The last time I was at the park I was told that the Canteen on Wilton Ave and G blocks had been sold.
    I feel that the BP trust should reopen talks with TNMOC and get something sorted out regarding a single entry ticket that benefits both organizations, because at the moment I feel ashamed to be a “Friend of BP” because of the way they are behaving.
    I believe that some of the private collections at BP were a detriment to the site as whole and not part of the core WW2 story or anything to do with code breaking. I understand the why they were thre in the first place and to be honest if they were still on site I could chooose not to see them
    The Lorenz exhibit in block B should have a sign that points the way to H block so people can go an see Colossus, never mind which trust it belongs to! its part of the story and very much is core!
    The new exhibition in Hut 11 is a poor indicator of what is to come in the refurbed C block. As nice as replica light fittings are and mock nicotine stained walls the presentation of some story boards on Bombe size frames with toy drums to set and plugboards in them do not a exhibition make.The only good thing about Hut 11 is the video.
    I hope the new block C and the restored huts go a long way to telling parts of the story that are missing or merely touched on.
    e.g,
    the Polish story
    Jeffry’s sheets
    Elmers School
    The Americans and BRUSA
    The Fusion Room
    Typex
    the roles of the women codebreakers ie Mavis Lever, Margaret Rock,Joan Clarke etc
    the work of John Tiltman, Dilly Knox and others
    The Purple machine that came from the states
    this is not an exhaustive list but there is so much more to tell I do hope that the BP trust start to tell the story and not airbrush out the bits they don’t like or cant control

  2. Michael Buckley says:

    ANdy, only to show that there are two sides to the argument, and that BP are looking to the future with this sort of activity.

    Now if we agree or not about its suitability one needs to know about it, hence the use of the BP publicity material.

    I am NOT sticking up for the CEO, quite the reverse in fact, but let us try and give him some credit if we can!

    My version of the truth is that all these activities could be taking place with all the former exhibits still there, giving increased value to everybody

    I see there is another posting which seems to indicate that some of the former displays were not worth “the hut they were in” Some pictures of hut 11 would be interesting to know what we are talking about. Which display is it that has drummer boys?

    Mike

  3. Andy Brown says:

    To respond to Howard’s point about some of the private collections being a ‘detriment’ to the Park. I can only speak about my personal experience as a member, Chairman and now President of the Milton Keynes Amateur Radio Society (MKARS). For almost twenty years MKARS built, maintained and demonstrated to the public a radio station (eventually in B-block) known as ‘GB2BP’ (the station’s call sign). As well as promoting BP to tens of thousands of amateur radio enthusiasts, MKARS also used the station to demonstrate radio in general and, in particular morse code and data transmission to visitors which, by the way included many visiting parties of school children (it was often the first time that many school children had seen morse being transmitted – imagine their excitement at being able to have ago!). The objective was to explain (and to demonstrate) the part radio played in the BP story (the code that was was decrypted at BP was invariably received by radio and the intelligence that was gleaned transmitted back to forces in the field by radio). MKARS also provided input to many events at BP – in its final year at BP, for example, MKARS received enigma encrypted morse signals from GCHQ, for decryption using the Park’s Bombe machines, as part of Cheltenham Science Week. While it was in B-block, MKARS included an exhibit explaining the part that radio amateurs played in the war effort (many of the Y-station operators were radio amateurs and many more still were recruited to the Radio Security Service. During the war 268,000 RSS decrypts were issued by Bletchley Park, with a peak of 282 a day in May 1944. Of these 97,000 were in Abwehr hand cipher and 140,000 enciphered on the Enigma machine). The work of the RSS is not widely known about by the public and some of us believe passionately that this story should be told and that the (very) obvious place to tell it is Bletchley Park. During our time at BP MKARS received no direct funding for any of our exhibits or activities at BPT. All of our efforts were funded by MKARS members, both financially and through their time and hard work. Because of the complete absence of funding by BPT, MKARS was not always able to develop displays to the standard it would have wished (somebody described our exhibit as a collection of dusty old radios operated by equally dusty old men in another blog. At times, both are probably fair comment, to be honest). But there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that, had BPT made even modest funding available, MKARS could have provided a world class exhibit telling this wonderful and important story. Instead we were uncerimoniously thrown out of BP altogether within about twelve months of Mr Standen coming into post – the justification being that we were “non-core” (complete rubbish, of course, how could radio possibly be non-core to the Bletchley Park story?). So my point is (and I am sorry that it has taken me so long to get there – I feel ridiculously passionate about MKARS and BP) that yes, some of the private collections may not have been to the kind of standard that we would all want to see displayed at BP. But perhaps that might have been rectified if, instead of waging a war of austerity against them (and yes, it did sometimes feel like that) and then summarily throwing them out, BPT had worked with them – and provided some funding – to help them raise their game. So why didn’t they?

  4. Howard C says:

    Perhaps when I used the word ” detriment” I was mistaken, however my thoughts on the exhibitions at BP that did not fit were more aimed at the model railway, the model boats, the projected picture trust, the toys and some of the stuff that used to be upstairs in B Block. On my first ever visit to BP in 2012 I met an Australian visitor who thought that the upstairs of Block B was the contents of someones attic. I also thought the Churchill collection was not so much out of place but just a large unorganized collection of anything that had Churchill written on it. I agree that Churchill has a place in the Bletchley story but the the collection had no structure. I understand that the collections were helpful to BP in the past and the reason for them being there. The only radio exhibit that was ever open on any of my 8 visits to BP since 2012 was the one in hut one.

  5. Andy Brown says:

    Yes, sadly MKARS was evicted from B-block (where we had our public station) in 2011. It is only fair to accept your comment that even when we were in B-block the station was only usually on the air at weekends, bank holidays, during BP special events and to receive school parties. This was because most of us (volunteers) had jobs to go to during the week. But again, had BP management been working with us and positively supporting us, perhaps that could have been addressed. In the latter years of our residency it did, honestly, feel like we were not wanted (which is what I mean by a war of austerity). And indeed, this was proved to be the case when we were finally evicted from the site altogether at the end of 2012. I would imagine (although I don’t have any direct experience) that the same might apply to the Churchill collection. Unfortunately, it seems to me that many of the collections at BP (i.e. those that were either seen as non-core or whose owners would not surrender them, wholly, to BPT) were left to languish by BPT and, not surprisingly, withered on the vine. Your mention of Hut 1 and the Diplomatic Wireless Service, spy radio, morse and teletype etc collection run by David White is another case in point. David is an MKARS member who has been supporting BP since the very beginning – he set up Station-X for example – and worked for the DWS at both Bletchley Park, I believe, Hanslope Park and around the world. While again, the collection was not displayed in a ‘modern’ fashion, most of those who ever visited it while I was there were absolutely captivated by the atmosphere of the place and by David’s amazing knowledge and life experience. David is a quiet and humble man who has devoted the latter part of his life to building, staffing and explaining this collection to many thousands of visitors to BP. His collection is absolutely unique in the world. A truly priceless collection which people travelled from the far corners of the world to see. He will be embarrassed, I’m sure, if he ever reads this – but Mr White should have been seen, by BPT, as a gold-plated asset. Instead of which bis collection is now at risk. Speaking purely personally, what is happening to the Hut 1 collection breaks my heart – sincerely. With regard to the Model Railway society, the toy collection etc the important point here is that these groups and collections all contributed to saving BP for the nation and, while I accept that they might not be ‘core’ to the wartime BP story, they were certainly a part of the overall BP story. When I first became involved at BP (around 10 years ago) the plan was that in addition to the main museum there would be a community museum on the site – which would include collections from local community groups that had had links to the Park over the years. This was an exciting project and, even as late as the tenure of Simon Greenish as CEO, MKARS was being told that there would be a place for it and many of the other groups, within the community museum. Indeed, this was part of the reason why we did not kick up a fuss when we were booted out of B-block. I personally attended a meeting with Simon, a representative from the Heritage Lottery fund or it might have been English Heritage (I’m afraid that I didn’t keep notes and can’t now remember) to discuss MKARS’s specific proposals for our part in that museum. But, with Iain Standen’s appointment, the community museum proposals appeared to die an almost instant death and nothing was ever heard of them again. I wonder why? Such a museum should, it seems to me, have been a cornerstone of the overall strategy for BP, in that it would have created a much more diverse experience for visitors, provided a long-term home for some wonderful collections and almost certainly avoided the disgraceful culling of people and collections seen over the last two years (the resulting damaging PR).

  6. Ted Coles says:

    It seems to me that one constructive way to reduce the disharmony at BP – particular in relation to The National Museum of Computing, would be for all interested parties to agree to appoint an independent mediator. But who might persuade them that this is a good idea? Might the local MP, Iain Stewart play a part? I am not one of his constituents, but do those who are, know whether he is interested in Bletchley Park, other than his recent pronouncement welcoming the pardon fro Alan Turing?

  7. Howard C says:

    It would appear that TNMOC has asked BP trust chair to consider using an independent mediator to try and sort out the dispute.

  8. Andy Brown says:

    Which seems a positive suggestion. It will be interesting to see how BPT respond.

  9. Michael Buckley says:

    Hopefully they will make a positive response as, from the circulating photographs the gate and fence are already going up – dont they totally ruin the appearance of the place?

    With a positive response both parties could work together in harmony and the fenced entanglements p- never part of BP – can come down again. Presumably TMoC have a vested interest in this, also, as they also need income to keep going, unless of course, BP want to see their building empty – seems unlikely!

    Michael

  10. Andy Brown says:

    That, may very well be, part of the problem. I suspect that what BPT want is Colossus etc and are willing to go to any lengths to get it, including isolating the TNMOC, thus cutting off an important part of their income stream. Why else erect the Bletchley fence? Their explanation for it is so obviously false that its laughable. If they wanted to pedestrianise part of the site then a few bollards would have done the job, without isolating visitors from TNMOC.

  11. Howard C says:

    I note that the twitter account of Ian Standen BP Ceo is no longer active and linked article states he is no longer allowed to talk to the press, I wonder why?

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/02/24/national_museum_of_computing_calls_for_independent_review/

  12. Andy Brown says:

    I wonder too. Let’s hope that it is the precursor to Standen’s early retirement. Harsh? I don’t think so.

  13. Surely the best event to help all parties and the future of the site as a WHOLE, would be the rapid departure of the whole board and the institution of a new one from across the spectrum of the BP Story,

  14. Howard C says:

    the lack of a fitting tribute to the late Jerry Roberts from BP trust in a timely fashion has helped them lose another volunteer
    http://mrpjevans.com/2014/03/an-open-letter-to-bletchley-park-trust/

  15. Andy says:

    Richard H,
    I quite agree. The board’s confidence in their CEO is unfathomable.

  16. Buckley says:

    Yes, Richard, Howard and Andy, you may well be right but you will also, no doubt agree, that the current levels of publicity are without precedent! Did we not hear that there was “no such thing as bad publicity”, so may be the CEO knows another way of fighting a battle that we dont!!

    Mike

  17. Andy says:

    Mike,
    I think your statement about publicity is probably true if your name is Johnny Rotten. Not so sure in the case of BPT.
    What other ways could you be talking about. Are you suggesting he has Max Mosley style pictures of everyone?
    Andy

  18. Did anyone think of inviting the visitors to Bletchley Park to indicate what had brought them there? What they most enjoyed about their visit? What could best be improved? It’s all very well inventing a pure theme, foisting it on an anticipated audience and then hoping people will turn up, but Bletchley Park isn’t exactly at the centre of the public transport network in the UK.

    Surely, the continuing relevance of the place today is that it was central to ‘Winning the War’? So, also, was propaganda and morale-boosting film making, not on television (because it was shut down during the war) but in the cinema. What better place to show examples of these films than in the Enigma Cinema? And a significant proportion of the Projected Picture Trust’s collection of film projection equipment is of the type that would have been in use in cinemas during WW2. This collection and the availability of working film projection equipment in the Enigma Cinema itself will take on an even greater significance in the future as we move further into the digital era of big-screen film presentation, where celluloid film is entirely replaced by digital media, hard-drives and server-based ‘light boxes’.

    Although working model railways won’t solve codes, a number of people almost certainly used model railways to toy with whilst they were thinking about how to win the war. And if you want to attract young people to Bletchley Park, then I couldn’t think of a much stronger attraction than a working model railway, well displayed, with such pulling power.

    In Wales when you visited Big Pit at the time when the tour guides were retired working miners you got the real story ‘from the horse’s mouth’ and this was a significant part of the attraction. Likewise, the inside knowledge built up by long-serving volunteer guides at Bletchley Park is part of the heritage which visitors can identify with, ask question of and be shown a few secrets – encouraging them and their friends to return again.

    So – ‘put the punters first’, Bletchley Park!

    Clive Gardener

  19. I hasten to add that my first visit to Bletchley Park was on 15th July 1995.

  20. John Alexander says:

    It’s not just different to what I expected BP would become, it’s a huge disappointment. BPT have been trying to wrest control of Colossus for years & it was a regular issue for Tony Sale. Things can still change & improve but I doubt they will until they are in fear of closure. Very gloomy situation indeed!

  21. peter says:

    I recently visited bp with my girl who is one of the chief it security people by the giant sap
    This was a wonderfull day and as I was a former government profeshional wink wink say no more!! I found it wonderfull to show her as a german this bit of history , today 2 years on I am disgusted to hear that this squabbling prevented us being informed correctly of all the things to be seen . Thanks guys you degraded our day wonderfull job done now all of you go stand in the corners. Reading this blog corner I can not believe what I am reading, grown individuals are damaging a national monument with their behaviour, remember monty python and the judian peoples front and the other lot, who hated each others guts? Well I do not find your actions at all funny, lets take the ham radio station example! Where the hell is it more interesting to demonstrate morse code than at bp and that live? If families visit bp isnt it nice for the kids to see a model railway in action too? No gentlemen, I expect no women are involved in this disgusting little story! I think you should grow up and if you are not capable others should replace you.

    On my visit I made a very simple request which you were more than able to do I wanted to ask my girl if she would marry me, profeshionaly I have cyphered gazilions of messages and you guys were not able to help me on this one, I ask myself was it worth risking my life in the soviet block for you lot? I was dissapointed, reading this stuff deepens my feeling that the wrong people have elbowed themselves inand are below performance , a national monument as bp should do a bit of weeding, and I think everyone knows here what I mean or?

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