Last night saw WeAreTheCity, BCS Women and the Women in Technology Network host an event in celebration of Dr Sue Black’s book, ‘Saving Bletchley Park’ and the remarkable men and women whose work made it a place worth saving.
Introduced by Vanessa Vallely of WeAreTheCity and Maggie Berry of BCS Women, authors Sue Black and Stevyn Colgan spoke of their journey writing the book to a captive audience. Guests were also treated to a reading from the book by Black and received books signed by both of the authors.
Speaking of the need to write the story of Bletchley Park, Black said, “I didn’t really know what Bletchley Park was…other than war and code-breaking. I had visions of middle aged men doing the Times crossword and some code-breaking on the side.”
“But more than half of the people there were women and I was really surprised that I didn’t know that.”
“So I honestly couldn’t stop myself. The fact that it [Bletchley Park] saved 22 million lives – where else can say that. Most of the workers were 18 to 25 year old women and where was their story.”
The book tells the story of Black’s quest to save the building from demolition due to lack of funding; but in Colgan’s words “Sue had done the how but we needed the why.” With his help, the book also tells the history of Bletchley Park and of those who worked there.
Colgan said Saving Bletchley Park is about, “a lot of unsung heroes. For nearly 40 something years, Bletchley Park was hanging by its fingernails. Alan Turing may have been the poster boy for Bletchley Park but there were many other people there that deserved those accolades as well.”
During the event, Black spoke about the impact that social media had on creating the book.
“Twitter made a massive difference”
“I started using Twitter and quickly realised it was an easy way to find things you’re interested in. I also wanted the people at Bletchley Park to realise that social media is a great tool to get people involved.”
Bletchley Park was the central site for the code-breakers during the Second World War. The code-breakers were responsible for trying to crack Nazi codes and ciphers; the most famous being the Enigma code. Over 5,000 women worked at Bletchley Park during the war and contributed to helping decode messages.
From 2008 to 2011, Sue Black has campaigned to save Bletchley Park, raising the profile of the site and funds and increasing the social media presence surrounding the site. Black is a Senior Research Associate at University College London. In 2001, she founded BCS Women and was chair of the group until 2008.
Stevyn Colgan is a researcher and writer, involved in the BBC TV series, QI.
You can find out more about Saving Bletchley Park and Dr Sue Black here.