Bletchley Park huts receive DCMS grant

Bletchley Park, the centre of British codebreaking operations during the Second World War, has been awarded an additional £250,000 by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) for urgent repairs to the outbuildings that once housed the groundbreaking electronic computing systems used for analysing encrypted German messages.

The grant will enable the Bletchley Park Trust to start restoration on the 70-year-old site, including patching-up original roadways, and new roofs for two of the most iconic, at-risk, historic buildings. Much of the wartime intelligence and code-cracking work was processed in an array of brick blocks and wooden huts constructed in the grounds of Bletchley Park House, several of which survive, having acquired legendary status.

Each hut performed a specific stage of the decryption and analysis process. Decoded messages from Hut Six were passed to Hut Three for translation and dispatch, and it is these two buildings that are most at risk, reports Bletchley Park Trust CEO Simon Greenish: “Funding to restore Huts Six and Three will be available through the Heritage Lottery Fund, but other problems such as access roads and roofs have more direct impact on the immediate running of the site, and need to be fixed first. However, repair work on the huts must start within two years, to head-off further serious deterioration”.

Greenish hopes to see the huts restored as closely as possible to their original appearance: “Being able to stand in the very room where this important wartime work took place will greatly enhance Bletchley Park visitors’ experience,” he says. “Much of the original fabric of the buildings survives, but we must act as soon as possible to preserve it.”

The award follows last October 2009’s Heritage Lottery Fund initial approval of a Bletchley Park Trust application for museum development funding. Detailed plans for this project will be submitted in 2011 in a bid to secure £4.1m needed to realise the plans, subject to the Trust itself raising £1m match-funding.

Greenish adds: “Bletchley Park is a place of National and international importance. This is acknowledged by the recent grant to help restore the site and manage the increased number of visitors”.

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