Facebook has announced a donation of £1 million to help save jobs at the famed Bletchley Park codebreaking centre.
The World War Two codebreaking site, which is now a museum, has been experiencing financial difficulties due to a lack of footfall amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In August, the Bletchley Park Trust announced the museum was faced with a £2 million shortfall in revenue due to the pandemic. Bletchley Park was closed to visitors during the early weeks of lockdown but as restrictions eased, the museum did reopen.
However, activities have been limited and the Trust revealed that, since re-opening, the centre has been forced to consider job cuts.
Up to 35 of the 100 staff employed at the centre were expected to be let go as part of the cost-cutting measures, but Facebook’s contribution means some jobs may be saved.
Additionally, Bletchley Park will also receive £447,000 as part of the UK Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund, which aims to provide financial support to cultural heritage sites, museums and arts organisations during the pandemic.
More than a quarter of a million people visited the iconic codebreaking museum in 2019.
In a statement, Bletchley Park Chief Executive Iain Standen said: “We are very grateful to Facebook for their generous donation.
“With this significant support, the Bletchley Park Trust will be better positioned to operate in the ‘new world’ and keep its doors open for future generations.”
Bletchley Park played a crucial role in the Allied war effort during the Second World War. It was here that scientists helped develop methods to decode encrypted German messages.
Decoding these messages gave the Allies detailed insights into German military activities and played a key role in planning for the invasion – and liberation – of Europe. Some historians argue that by cracking the German enigma code, scientists helped accelerate Allied efforts and shorten the war.
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Bletchley Park is also where the world’s first programmable digital computer, known as ‘Colossus’, was built – a significant development that helped lay the foundations for the tech-driven world we live in today.
Among the scientists working at the site during World War Two was Alan Turing, who is widely regarded as the ‘father’ of computer science and artificial intelligence.
Steve Hatch, Facebook’s VP for Northern Europe, commented: “The historic achievements of Alan Turing and the Bletchley team have benefited all of us greatly, including Facebook, and we’re thrilled to help preserve this spiritual home of modern computing.”