News Article

Pioneering Bletchley Park codebreaker honoured

Last Updated: 20 Oct 2016
Director and a group of GCHQ staff help stage a special event in Bristol to commemorate the life and work of codebreaker and mathematician Gordon Welchman.

News article - 28 Sep 2016

Director GCHQ Robert Hannigan recently spoke at the unveiling of a Blue Plaque in the Fishponds area of Bristol, along with civic dignitaries and Welchman family members.


Robert Hannigan speaking from the lectern at the front of the church
Robert Hannigan paying tribute to Gordon Welchman. ©GCHQ 2016


Gordon Welchman was a contemporary of Alan Turing and other early recruits who worked in Bletchley’s famous Hut 6, decrypting German military signals. Born and raised in the Fishponds area, Welchman was baptised at St Mary’s Parish Church where his father was also Canon. 

To mark his connection to the city, Bristol Civic Society has dedicated a Blue Plaque in his memory. Welchman's daughter, Susanna Griffith, carried out the unveiling at an event attended by the Deputy Lord Mayor of Bristol Chris Davis, and Welchman’s biographer Joel Greenberg, as well as a group of local people.


Blue plaque with white text mounted on the wall of the church
The Blue Plaque dedicated to Gordon Welchman's memory mounted on the church wall. ©GCHQ 2016


Robert Hannigan paid tribute to Gordon Welchman saying: “He was a giant of his era and part of an extraordinary group of people who helped to shorten the Second World War. I’m honoured to share today with his family, and to represent the organisation his work and his values helped build. Gordon Welchman and his colleagues set the standard for today’s GCHQ, and staff aim to work with the same ingenuity and passion that he did, to keep Britain safe.

Gordon Welchman’s daughter Susanna added: “I’m very proud of my father and everything that he achieved. He was a man of huge intellect and integrity, and this plaque is a great honour for our family, and something I’m sure he’d say he didn’t deserve.


Gordon Welchman’s daughter Susanna Griffith talking to Tony, GCHQ Historian, about Enigma.
Gordon Welchman’s daughter Susanna Griffith talking to Tony, GCHQ Historian. ©GCHQ 2016



Susanna is cutting a cake that is decorated with a picture of the plaque
Susanna Griffith cutting the celebration cake. ©GCHQ 2016


In addition to the unveiling, GCHQ hosted a code-breaking workshop for children from nearby Fishponds Academy, as part of its schools outreach programme.