Here's some further detail on yesterday's disturbing news about the Bletchley Park trust's management of the museum -- firing volunteers with decades of service with no notice, evicting collections, and doing everything it can to separate the Bletchley Park exhibits from the National Museum of Computing, which is on the Bletchley site and pays a substantial rent to the trust.
Now the trustees of the National Museum of Computing -- which contains a replica of the Colossus II and the Tunny, early computers that played a key role in Bletchley's wartime history -- have written an open letter detailing their grievances against the Bletchley Trust, which appears to be doing everything it can to marginalise and exclude the National Museum and its exhibits.
I'm a donor to Bletchley and the NMOC, and was a member of the Bletchley Friends until recently. The National Museum of Computing is an important facility that complements Bletchley's own exhibits, and without which, Bletchley is much poorer. The Bletchley Trust's repudiation of the people and institutions that kept the site open and operational, saving it from ruin, is a disgrace. Even worse, of course, was the business of surrendering editorial control of its exhibits to corporate sponsors, but there's something especially contemptible about gratuitous cruelty that goes beyond a mere breach of intellectual integrity.
The National Museum of Computing is an independent charity on the Bletchley Park estate. It occupies Block H, a hugely significant part of Bletchley Park since it is the home of Colossus and the world's first purpose-built computer centre. For these premises TNMOC must pay to the Bletchley Park Trust very substantial rent and utilities amounting to more than £100,000 per year.
TNMOC is very much opposed to the fragmentation of Bletchley Park currently being undertaken by the Bletchley Park Trust. One facet of this fragmentation is the removal of TNMOC's Colossus and Tunny Galleries from Bletchley Park Trust tours and the isolation of historic Block H. TNMOC trustees are disappointed that Colossus Rebuild is not to be interpreted to the public as an integral part of the Bletchley Park story as envisaged in the Bletchley Park Trust's successful Heritage Lottery Fund bid.
Our records show that the numbers of Bletchley Park visitors coming to Block H to see the Colossus Rebuild are declining as a direct result of Bletchley Park Trust actions. Today most Bletchley Park Trust visitors miss the key experience of seeing the Colossus Rebuild and the Tunny machine in action and thereby miss out on key working exhibits representing the outstanding pinnacle of the World War II code-breaking story.
Negotiations with the Bletchley Park Trust to achieve a fair and equitable financial arrangement to give all Bletchley Park fee-paying visitors access to Colossus and Tunny have proved exceedingly difficult. The Bletchley Park Trust's current action to erect gates and barriers between its own display area and Block H will almost certainly prove divisive.
TNMOC wants to see the whole Bletchley Park site reach its full potential in honour of the men and women who worked at Bletchley Park during World War II. This can be achieved by ensuring that all stakeholders are properly consulted and represented in the revitalisation of the conservation area that constitutes the whole of Bletchley Park. The need for change, sensitively managed and involving all stakeholders, is essential to ensure the future of a vibrant Bletchley Park which will be inspiring for young people and future generations.
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.