Bletchley Park has won £460,500 in lottery funding for its restoration, and is in line to receive a further £4.1m to help it become a heritage and educational centre.
The base for Britain's codebreakers during the Second World War, Bletchley Park was recently turned down for government funding despite the rapidly deteriorating condition of some its buildings. It last applied — unsuccessfully — for lottery funding in 1995 and, on Monday, the Bletchley Park Trust welcomed the funding decision as a "landmark event".
The £460,500 was awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The Bletchley Park Trust now has two years in which to submit more detailed plans to the HLF for its transformation into a "world-class heritage and educational site reflecting the profound significance of the impact its work had on the outcome of war and as a permanent tribute to its unsung intellectual warriors", it said in a statement, adding that it expected the project to cost around £10m.
"The support offered by HLF is a landmark event for the Trust in our quest to provide a permanent future for Bletchley Park that will enable us to work up detailed plans for the education and enjoyment of future generations," Trust director Simon Greenish said in the statement, noting that the organisation has been fighting for financial investment since 1992.
In March, English Heritage and Milton Keynes Council pledged £600,000 towards the restoration of the dilapidated buildings at Bletchley Park.
Bletchley Park has been open to the public as a museum since 1994. According to the Trust, visitor numbers have doubled from 50,000 visitors a year three years ago, to almost 100,000 this year.
HLF chief executive Carole Souter said in the statement that the fund's initial support for Bletchley's restoration plans "demonstrates our belief that Bletchley's story should be much more widely known and appreciated".
The actor Stephen Fry said in the statement that three things had become "necessary" for the recognition of Bletchley Park and the work done by its staff: an apology to Alan Turing "for how the nation he helped preserve turned its back on him and allowed his humiliation, neglect and suicide"; national recognition and citation for the codebreakers; and the preservation, maintenance and development of the site.
All these steps have now been taken, Fry said, following Gordon Brown's apology this month on behalf of the nation to Turing, the government's award in July of commemorative badges for Bletchley Park veterans and, now, the HLF development grant.
"The news that Bletchley Park has the initial support of the Heritage Lottery Fund is simply wonderful," Fry said. "And yet, what should the Heritage Lottery Fund do if not exactly this? As each year passes it is becoming clearer and clearer just how vital a role in winning the war Bletchley played."