Bletchley Park restoration project opened by HRH The Duchess of Cambridge
News Article - 18 Jun 2014
GCHQ's spiritual home of Bletchley Park was honoured to receive a visit from Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge on Wednesday 18 June 2014 to mark the occasion of its re-launch following the completion of an 8 million Heritage Lottery Fund supported restoration project.
The re-launch of Bletchley Park involves the transformation of wartime Block C into a vibrant Visitor Centre and the codebreaking Huts 3 and 6 into an immersive experience, enabling visitors to experience what it was like for the codebreakers who worked in them in 1940 and 1941.
As part of the day's events the Duchess, escorted by Sir John Scarlett (Chairman of the Bletchley Park Trust) and Sir Iain Lobban (Director GCHQ), was able to meet with trustees, sponsors, volunteers and Bletchley Park veterans and experience some of the new visitor centre's exhibitions and interactive equipment.
Following a visit to the newly refurbished and transformed codebreaking huts the Duchess was then able to learn about the birth and development of the UK - US Special Relationship from Director in the Mansion's morning room, where it all started.
The day's events culminated with a series of speeches from Sir John, Director and Mr Paul Hudson of the Heritage Lottery Fund, all of whom thanked the Duchess for her visit before she was invited to plant a tree to commemorate her visit.
From left to right: Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge, Iain Standen (Chief Executive Officer of the Bletchley Park Trust), Sir Iain Lobban KCMG CB (Director GCHQ) and Sir John Scarlett KCMG (Chairman of the Bletchley Park Trust)
Sir Iain Lobban pays tribute to Bletchley Park
In his speech, Sir Iain paid tribute to those people who toiled in secret at Bletchley Park during the Second World War (which included the Duchess's own grandmother and great-aunt) and remarked on how their efforts remain to this day a source of inspiration for their successors at GCHQ.
'Your Royal Highness, Ladies and Gentlemen.
'I stand here today representing the Foreign Secretary, who is an enormous champion of Bletchley Park as well as my own department.
'Your visit here today marks the beginning of a new and exciting phase in the history of Bletchley Park. The new visitor centre that you have opened is emblematic of all that the Bletchley Park Trust has striven to achieve: it explains and contextualises what happened here during the Second World War; and it provides a forum in which today's issues around intelligence, security and technology, can draw on the past in order to illuminate them.
'There are several different sources of inspiration to draw on at this site. The first is that wonderful generation of people who worked here and at the sites which fed their material here, or which drew on Bletchley's product, some of whom are here and sharing this celebration with us today. Their dedication, their perseverance, their commitment to respect the promise they gave not to talk about their work here is a shining example of duty, one we should all aspire to, one we might hope to match, but not one which we shall be able to surpass.
'When Her Majesty The Queen dedicated the memorial outside Block B she spoke of the "geniuses such as Alan Turing" but went on to point out that "these wonderfully clever mathematicians, language graduates and engineers were complemented by people with different sets of skills, harnessing that brilliance through methodical, unglamorous, hard slog". I hope Ma'am, that after your visit here you can now see your grandmother and great-aunt in a new light, with a deeper appreciation of the contribution that they made as young women to the war effort.
'Bletchley Park is the source of inspiration for another set of people: those of us who work in signals intelligence today: not just institutionally, though it was here that the transformation of the pre-war Code and Cypher School into something recognisable as GCHQ took place; but because the variety of different skills needed for the full range of jobs here are recognisably the same as those needed currently. The same cover management tasks that were carried out by your grandmother are still being carried out by young men and women in Cheltenham.
'Part of the induction process for new members of GCHQ is not just to learn in a classroom about our history, but to visit Bletchley Park and to connect in a real way to the place where their predecessors worked. Here they can feel the links which bind them to a different generation which was engaged on some of the same enduring tasks that we face today.
'And it isn't just our staff: ties that were developed, not just with the United States and the Commonwealth partners, but with other allies as well: especially the French and the Poles. These ties survive and the link to our wartime shared endeavour is explicit and helps those ties thrive.
'Another source of inspiration is the dedication of the volunteers, the staff, the generous sponsors, and the trustees, all of whom have contributed first to saving Bletchley Park as part of this country's heritage, and then developing it so that a new generation can learn about the importance of harnessing science, technology, engineering and mathematics for our country's future.
'An American colleague noted recently that when, in an episode of Foyle's War, a character says that he had worked at Station X during the war, no further explanation was necessary. What happened here has entered the national consciousness, and has helped shape the image that we have of ourselves.
'But I want to come back to those veterans: they came here as young men and women and gave the very best of themselves to the work carried out here: they invented the computer; they built a world-wide web of communications to ensure that their secrets could travel securely around the world; they kept their focus on supporting the government and allied forces; they worked impossible hours; they endured periods of great drudgery; they did this year in year out and, at the end of the war, when they had been asked not to reveal what had been achieved at this place, they took their secrets home and kept them.
'Thank you Ma'am, for joining us today. Thank you for helping us to ensure that Bletchley Park, and memories of the important work carried out here during the war, will continue to be remembered and will continue to inspire new generations.'