News Article

GCHQ starts its Centenary Year

Last Updated: 01 Nov 2018
Today, 1 November 2018, is the start of our centenary year. The last 100 years has seen GCHQ at the heart of the nation's security, and we'll continue to help keep the UK safe for the next 100.

News article - 1 November 2018

From our inception, we have valued different perspectives and diversity of skills, and our history is full of ordinary people solving extraordinary problems. The changing threats we face will demand ever more of the ingenuity for which we are renowned.

The origins of GCHQ date back to 1919 when it was formed under the original name of the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS). It was the result of the merger of Room 40 in the Admiralty, responsible for naval intelligence, and MI1(b) in the War Office, responsible for military intelligence, during the First World War. GC&CS became the single organisation responsible for signals intelligence. From its earliest days, producing intelligence from others' communications whilst protecting the UK's own has been at the core of the mission. GC&CS was renamed GCHQ in 1939 to better disguise its secret work. Its role at Bletchley Park in the Second World War is now well known and the organisation moved its headquarters to Cheltenham in 1950. Today, GCHQ has sites across the country including Bude, Scarborough, and London, and will be opening a new facility in Manchester in 2019.

Our modern day mission is much more diverse than it was when we were formed. Supporting the military is still very much part of our role but we also now tackle the most serious cyber, terrorist, criminal, and state threats. In an increasingly digital world, the need to protect the UK's communications is a part of GCHQ's role that continues to be equally as relevant. The formation of the National Cyber Security Centre, a part of GCHQ, is helping to make the UK the safest place to live and do business online. 

Throughout our centenary year we will be marking this significant milestone in a variety of ways. Some plans are still secret for now but there is lots we can already tell you about. We have recently launched the GCHQ Puzzle Book II. As well as developing your problem solving skills you can read a selection of short stories that will give you an insight into our evolution and the challenges we face as we look towards our second century. All of our profits are going to Heads Together, the mental health initiative run by the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. If the short stories in our puzzle book get you interested, then look out for our first full authorised history which is due for publication in Autumn 2019. We are also delighted that the London Science Museum will be hosting an exhibition opening July 2019 that will explore our story. Exciting times ahead...