Google donates £550,000 to Bletchley Park restoration fund

Home of World War II codebreakers close to hitting funding target...

Home of World War II codebreakers close to hitting funding target...

Google has donated £550,000 towards restoring World War II codebreaking site Bletchley Park.

The money will be put towards a £15m project to build a visitor's centre in the grounds of the manor house in Buckinghamshire and renovate the huts where the codebreaking took place.

The work of the World War II codebreakers based at Bletchley Park allowed the Allies to stay one step ahead of the German military.

Bletchley Park

Google has donated £550,000 towards renovating Bletchley ParkCreative Commons: Draco2008

The German army, navy and airforce protected their communications using a encryption machine called Enigma, which turned regular German text into code.

Every day the German military would change the settings they used to encrypt messages, and each day the Bletchley codebreakers would engage in a race against time to crack that day's code.

To help crack Enigma's codes, a team of mathematicians led by Alan Turing developed the electromechanical Bombe machine in 1940.

Each Bombe was built to work as if it was several Enigma machines wired together and was able to narrow down the settings used to encrypt each message far quicker than a human could. By the end of the war, Bletchley was using 220 of the machines to crack codes.

Bletchley was also home to one of the world's first electronic computers, Colossus. Colossus was developed to help automate the cracking of the Lorenz code that protected the communications between Hitler and his High Command. Colossus reduced the time it took to crack Lorenz from weeks to hours, as it was capable of working through the 1019 different ways that Lorenz could encrypt messages far more quickly than a person could.

Peter Barron, director of external relations for Google, said in a statement: "The Bletchley Park Trust has been doing great work to honour Alan Turing and the codebreakers who helped shorten the Second World War and to educate the next generation about the history of modern computing."

The trust won a £4.6m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) in October 2011. In order to access the HLF funds and start work on the first stage of the £15m project, the trust must raise match funding itself. Bletchley issued a statement saying that Google's donation bought it "significantly closer" to hitting that funding target.