Turing papers safe at last at Bletchley Park

The fight to get a rare collection of computing pioneer Alan Turing's papers saved for display at the Bletchley Park facility where he once worked, now a museum, has succeeded with last-minute funding from the National Heritage Memorial Fund.

While the original campaign, launched back in November last year, failed in its bid to raise the £500,000 the papers were expected to fetch at auction, hopes were raised when the papers failed to sell - giving the Bletchley Park Trust a second chance to acquire them.

Talks have been ongoing since then, and the fund raised from members of the public - which stands at an astounding £28,652.17 when Gift Aid is taken into account - along with the generous $100,000 grant from advertising giant Google and other funds raised elsewhere is now joined by funding from NHMF totalling £213,437.

"Alan Turing was a true war hero and played an absolutely crucial role during the Second World War," NHMF chair Dame Jenny Abramsky in a statement. "The National Heritage Memorial Fund was set up in memory of those who have given their lives for the UK and this grant will now ensure that this extremely rare collection of his work stands as a permanent memorial to the man and to all those who paid the ultimate price in service to this nation."

"Turing is a hero to many of us at Google for his pioneering work on algorithms and the development of computer science," reaffirmed Google's Peter Barron. "We're delighted that this important Collection will now be accessible to everyone visiting Bletchley Park."

The collection, now officially named the Turing-Newman Collaboration Collection, comprises the largest known collection of Turing's offprints in the world - given by Turing to his close friend and colleague Professor Maxwell Newman. The papers are thought to be of particular historical value as much of Turing's war-time work was destroyed under the Official Secrets Act and the man himself kept few personal possessions.

Now safely ensconced in the Bletchey Park museum, the papers will go on public display later this year following the completion of conservation work by the Trust to ensure the historical collection remains in good condition for future generations to enjoy.

"Safeguarding our heritage isn't just about bricks and mortar or fine art, it’s also about preserving the evidence of significant scientific discoveries and inventions," opined Tourism and Heritage Minister John Penrose at the announcement. "The National Heritage Memorial Fund’s grant to the Bletchley Park Trust to help secure this collection for the Trust is fantastic news and reflects the great advances Turing made in terms of code breaking and computer science, which as we now recognise, helped to turn the tide for this country during the war."

To end the story on a personal note, I would like to thank all those that donated to what seemed - at the time - like a lost cause, and to those who worked with the Trust to gain additional funding above and beyond that that the original fundraising campaign was able to achieve. Everyone involved can be justifiably proud of this wonderful outcome.

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