News Article

GCHQ to celebrate centenary in 2019

Last Updated: 24 Feb 2017
We announce plans to mark our 100th anniversary, beginning with an exhibition at the Science Museum and our first authorised history.

News article - 24 Feb 2017

GCHQ will be 100 years old in 2019. Founded as the Government Code & Cypher School in 1919, changed to Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in 1946, we have been keeping Britain safe ever since.

To celebrate our centenary, we're planning a series of events and activities covering science, secrets, and subterfuge. Today we're able to tell you about the first few projects that are underway.

We've commissioned the first authorised history of GCHQ, written by world-leading intelligence and security expert Professor John Ferris. Due to be published in 2019, the history will cover our origins in World War One, through Bletchley Park and the Cold War, to the present day.


Bletchley WWII
Bletchley Park ©GCHQ


Professor Ferris has spent much of his career writing about intelligence and its effects on the development of policy, including a year as Scholar in Residence at the National Security Agency, our American partners.

We will be giving as many source documents from the history as we can to the National Archives, alongside our continued programme of releasing previously secret documents from our past.

There will also be a privately funded exhibition at the Science Museum in London, where visitors will be able to play with some of our gadgets, see never before released secret papers from our archive, and learn about the amazing work of cryptographic giants like Denniston, Tiltman, Turing, Clarke, and Ellis.

Today our main base is in Cheltenham, but over the years hundreds of sites stretching from Land's End to the Shetlands, from Gilnahirk in Northern Ireland to the White Cliffs of Dover, have been involved in Signals Intelligence.  We hope to explore some of our hidden geography throughout 2019.


GCHQ today ©GCHQ


GCHQ Historian Tony Comer said: "GCHQ has kept Britain safe for 100 years, and will keep doing so into the future. Our centenary is a unique moment to commemorate our past, tell you more about what we do, and celebrate the people who have made GCHQ such a ground-breaking place to work for 100 years.

"It wouldn't be GCHQ without a puzzle, so although we promise to keep you up to date on our centenary plans, you might need your codebreaking skills for the next instalment ... "