Bletchley Park gets £250k grant for repairs

After repeated appeals to rescue the home of British wartime codebreaking, the government allocates money for repairs to roads, roofs and other infrastructure
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor

Bletchley Park, the centre of British World War II codebreaking, has been awarded £250,000 for repairs by the government.

The grant, announced on Thursday by culture secretary Ben Bradshaw, comes after repeated rejections of requests for central government funding by the Bletchley Park Trust. The Bletchley Park site, which houses a museum dedicated to the work of British wartime codebreakers, has a number of buildings in a poor state of repair.

"It's very important to get another tranche of money to put right the ravages of time," Bletchley Park museum director Simon Greenish told ZDNet UK on Thursday.

The money from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) will be spent on infrastructure, including roofs, roads, drains and fencing, and will complement £460,000 of lottery funding the museum won in September 2009, Greenish said.

Bradshaw said that the funds were needed to keep the museum running.

"The work carried out at Bletchley Park had a huge impact on the course of the war, and the museum does a brilliant job in bringing this alive for people of all ages," he said in a statement. "But having doubled its visitor numbers over the last three years, it urgently needs funds to keep it in good condition."

The grant comprises money reallocated from underspends in DCMS budget for 2009-2010. It represents a change of heart for the government, which rejected calls for funds for the museum in May 2009. It also turned down appeals in August 2009, when more than 20,000 people signed a petition asking for £250,000 a year to be awarded to the site

Greenish said that the money will have to be spent quickly, as it needs to be spent by the end of the financial year in April. He added that end-of-year budget reallocation awards are fairly common for museums.

"We've started spending the money already," said Greenish. "We're grateful for anything that comes in. The government has now put its hands in its pockets directly, and government recognition is just as important as cash."

Increased visitor numbers to the Bletchley Park museum have generated enough income for operational expenditure, but not enough to carry out repair work to the museum's infrastructure, he added.

The £460,000 of lottery funding won in September will be used to draw up detailed plans to bid for a further £4.1m of lottery funding, Bletchley Park said.

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