UK

Facebook Donates £1m To Bletchley Park

Facebook said Bletchley Park - the home of the World War Two codebreakers that broke the Enigma code - was a birthplace of modern computing.

Facebook has made a £1m donation to Bletchley Park to support its work for the next two years.

It comes after the charity and museum said it had lost 95% of its income because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The social network said the donation was in recognition of the Buckinghamshire country house’s legacy as a birthplace of modern computing.

Iain Standen, chief executive of Bletchley Park, said Facebook's donation would help preserve the park’s visitor experiences and learning programmes.

The donation comes alongside £447,000 in support from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Culture Recovery Fund.

"We are very grateful to both Facebook for their generous donation and DCMS for their financial support," Mr Standen said.

"Facebook’s donation highlights the ongoing legacy of pioneering technology developed here during World War Two.

"Whilst the Culture Recovery Fund demonstrates how vital it is to the nation to save heritage sites like Bletchley Park. With this significant support, we at Bletchley Park can weather the current crisis and survive into the future, keeping the doors open for future generations."

Bletchley Park was home to the codebreakers of the Second World War who managed to decipher messages sent by Nazi Germany.

Colossus 2 at Bletchley Park during WWII
A Colossus 2 machine at Bletchley Park during the Second World War in 1944 (Picture: Tophams/PA).

It was there where some of the world's most gifted minds were based during the war, including computer scientist Alan Turing.

The intelligence gathered at Bletchley Park is believed to have shortened the war by anything up to four years.

Steve Hatch, Facebook’s vice-president for northern Europe, said the social network’s own work on new technologies would not have been possible without Bletchley Park.

"The historic achievements of Alan Turing and the Bletchley team have benefitted all of us greatly, including Facebook, and we’re thrilled to help preserve this spiritual home of modern computing," he said.

"The UK is our biggest engineering hub outside of the US and responsible for building technologies to keep our community safe, for the future of work and commerce, and for the exciting world of VR and AR.

"This wouldn’t have been possible without the legacy of Alan Turing and his team and our hope is that Bletchley staying open inspires the next generation of engineers."

Today, the Bletchley Park Trust is a registered charity, heritage attraction and independent museum with the aim of educating visitors on the site’s legacy.

It also runs learning programmes around coding.

A four-month closure because of the coronavirus lockdown saw the trust report an expected £2m deficit for the year because of lost visitor numbers.

In August, the Bletchley Park Trust also announced restructuring plans that included a possible 35 redundancies - around a third of the 118-strong workforce.

Cover image: Bletchley Park (Picture: PA).