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MP backs campaign to save secret WWII base

PUBLISHED: 15:42 27 August 2008 | UPDATED: 10:25 12 August 2010

Bletchley Mansion

Bletchley Mansion

AN MP is supporting a campaign to save a historical wartime site, writes Kate Nelson. Beckenham MP, Jacqui Lait, has thrown her weight behind Bletchley Park in Milton Keynes, where code-breakers cracked German ciphers to defend Britain against Nazi advan

AN MP is supporting a campaign to save a historical wartime site, writes Kate Nelson.

Beckenham MP, Jacqui Lait, has thrown her weight behind Bletchley Park in Milton Keynes, where code-breakers cracked German ciphers to defend Britain against Nazi advances.

Mrs Lait's uncle, Robert Easton Button, who served at Bletchley and died two weeks ago, aged 93, said: "Bletchley played a key role in the allied victory in the Second World War and without it we wouldn't have been able to crack the enigma code.

"It was also the beginning of the modern computing industry which was key in the success of the modern economy. My uncle was an American attached to the Eisenhower government who acted as a liaison officer.

Asked whether he ever spoke of his time there, Mrs Lait, said: "Sadly not, we often tried but he was an honourable gentleman who had signed the official secrets act."

The historical site needs around £10 million to secure its future and top computer scientists have called on the government to invest and make Bletchley Park in to a national museum of computing.

Some 97 senior experts, including professors and heads of department, wrote a letter to a national newspaper which read: "As a nation we cannot allow this crucial and unique piece of both British and world heritage to be neglected in this way.

"The future of the site, buildings, resources and equipment at Bletchley Park must be preserved for future generations."

Head of the Department of Information and Software Systems at the University of Westminster, and one of the main movers behind the letter, Sue Black, said: "I don't think people realise what a state it's in, despite the best efforts of the people looking after it."

But the government is reluctant to extend its museum fund to support the upkeep of the national site.

A spokesperson from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, said: ""The Department for Culture, Media and Sport, whilst recognising the excellent work carried out at Bletchley Park, as well as its historical significance, has no plans to extend the Department's sponsorship of museums and galleries beyond the present number."

Donations can be made to The Bletchley Park Trust www.bletchleypark.org.uk, and/or the house is open to visitors.

katherine.nelson@archant.co.uk

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