back to article Elderly Bletchley Park volunteer sacked for showing Colossus exhibit to visitors

It is a simmering conflict between two rival organisations over how Blighty's rich computing history should be preserved and showcased. Now the ongoing war between Bletchley Park and the National Museum of Computing has claimed its first casualties. Tony Carroll, an elderly volunteer at Bletchley Park, was fired after daring …

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  1. the spectacularly refined chap

    Bad faith all around

    I can still remember appeals for contemporary valves etc going around in the mid-90s - the rebuild was only possible because of the good-faith donations (money and parts) of a lot of interested folk. Does it cross the minds of the people involved that this kind of petty squabbling is not what those donations were to enable?

    1. David Pollard

      Re: Bad faith all around

      It certainly wasn't quite what I envisaged when I donated an early British PC plus CP/M manuals and such to illustrate the development of personal computing.

      1. akeane

        Re: Bad faith all around

        I think they flogged off that machine to TSB...

        (as an upgrade)

      2. Scoular

        Re: Bad faith all around

        I have some things here ready to ship as a donation (agreed in advance to be desirable).

        Now I will wait and see how things work out. Not much point in me wasting money shipping heavy things if they are no longer needed.

        1. TNMOC peter

          Re: Bad faith all around

          Is this donation to Bletchley Park or TNMOC?

          If TNMOC then as I stated earlier we are a completely separate organisation from BPT and intend to continue regardless of what barriers BPT put in front of us. Our location, galleries, donations and artefacts are completely safe from anything BPT can do so I assure you your donation is important to us as we have already agreed to accept them.

          Being part of the donations team, I am still processing donations daily and have no intention to stop.

          For anyone else who wants to donate equipment to us, please read our donations page:

          http://www.tnmoc.org/support/donate-equipment

          Please read the following which clarifies our position:

          http://www.tnmoc.org/news/news-releases/deciphering-discontent-statement-tnmoc-trustees

          1. kiwimuso
            FAIL

            Re: Bad faith all around

            Ah, it seems that you don't understand.

            This decision has been made by a 'manager'. Managers have been especially trained to make decisions. He must be right.

            Duh!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bad faith all around

      But the computer museum do not seem to be at fault, I don't think there have been any changes by them except recovering items on loan to the other museum that has refused to cooperate with them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bad faith all around

        There is a gulf of difference between the people who have LIVED what has happened here, and Johnny-come-latelies whose only connection to the era seems a desire to behave like one of the chaps Bletchley was spying on (this is the one rare occasion where I risk getting close to Godwin's law) - you don't do that to people who have given their *soul* to the place.

        However, even if we let that be, that director should be shown the door for causing a massive PR debacle. Instead of appreciating the fact that the site was basically getting free publicity, this guy chose to select that exact moment to send someone out. Even if that was the decision, anyone with more than 3 braincells sparking would have realised that delaying that would have been a better idea.

        Not that I personally condone such decisions - there should have been made much more effort to integrate the volunteers. If they reject changes, maybe it's because the changes may actually affect the integrity of what is on display.

        On the plus side: now all volunteers know how their work is valued. It may be better to exit en bloc with their integrity intact. It won't be possible to fight this lot now actual money has arrived :(.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Bad faith all around

          Bletchley had actually a soul through these volunteers, the exhibitions came alive because of their dedication. I won't bother visiting a sanitised entertainment site, sorry.

          I've pinged the guys from the Swindon computer museum to see if they cannot at least take care of some of the volunteer exhibitions.

          1. TNMOC peter

            Re: Bad faith all around

            "I've pinged the guys from the Swindon computer museum to see if they cannot at least take care of some of the volunteer exhibitions."

            What volunteer exhibitions are you referring to and what have Swindon got to do with it? BPT don't have any computer related exhibitions.

            None of the TNMOC exhibitions, galleries, donations and artifacts are under threat here, we are completely separate from Bletchley Park and intend to continue regardless of what barriers (literally) BPT put in front of us. Our lease guarantees that BPT cannot stop people visiting Block H (but clearly they are trying to make that difficult) and there will always be a route from the main BP entrance to get to us.

            Please read our statement which makes it clear:

            http://www.tnmoc.org/news/news-releases/deciphering-discontent-statement-tnmoc-trustees

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Bad faith all around

              What volunteer exhibitions are you referring to and what have Swindon got to do with it? BPT don't have any computer related exhibitions.

              Nothing with any evil intent - you guys have an issue so the aim was to see if I could get some help from others whose intention is education and preservation of heritage rather than raw money pumping.

              I for one support you guys - see it in that context. I'm not exactly alone in this either - that BBC programme has not exactly been good advertising for BPT. If BPT has *any* marketing smarts it should issue a mea culpa, eat some humble pie and then actively work towards integration. Alas, I sense entrenched positions (pardon the pun) so I suspect this disconnect will rumble on for quite some time.

              BPT may have the name now, but I hope you guys keep taking care of its soul.

      2. Gnomalarta
        Alert

        Re: Bad faith all around

        Looks like the marketing droids and accounting wonks have taken over. Like many, I am sure, it was a wonderful experience being shown the re-built Colossus and Tunny by one of the men that did it. As we were a radio club we got the technical tour and the story of how they managed to rebuild Colossus. Tony Carroll is very knowledgeable and if he goes all that knowledge and experience will be lost.

        BYW, the local Milton Keynes Amateur Radio Club were also ask to leave as they did not fit into the new vision of BP.

        I'm very glad to I got to see his version of Bletchley Park and feel sorry for all those who will merely get to visit a theme park.

        If he does not have one then let's give Tony Carroll an OBE!

        1. Chronos Silver badge

          Re: Bad faith all around

          BYW, the local Milton Keynes Amateur Radio Club were also ask to leave as they did not fit into the new vision of BP.

          They were displaced by the RSGB's "National Radio Centre," which is a fancy name for an advertising hut for the major manufacturers of chequebook tat. The RSGB now do exactly what MKARS did - only badly, with all the soul, intellect and appeal of a putrescent deceased rat - with the sole intention of parting as many fools from the contents of their wallets as possible, as is the RSGB's wont. MKARS showed the public that amateur radio could be interesting. The RSGB simply see it as an income stream.

          These two organisations were made for each other, it seems.

  2. Steve James 1

    I visited about 2 years ago, and the whole charm of the place was the best tour I've ever had anywhere from someone who truly had passion for the place. We got the whole story, in a perfect setting. Sure the huts need a little TLC, but a glitzy visitors centre is not what is wanted here.

    The computing museum, helped to bring the story of the past up to date and was just as interesting as the main Bletchley tour. Also the Churchill museum was an integral part of the story, I understand that's now been removed. The toy museum, although cramped was just as interesting in transporting me back in time.

    I would hate to see a sanitised version, cleaned up for the modern age, with tour guides who are no more than just workers doing a job. It's the guides who really made the day, people like that with memories of how it was won't be around for ever and the trust would be well advised to keep them as long as possible. The trust wouldn't exist if it wasn't for those guides keeping the place alive.

    I half expect a gift shop with tea-towels and jam is probably on the agenda as well!

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      .....tea-towels and jam

      ".... a gift shop with tea-towels and jam" , made in China but labelled with pictures of cosy English cottages alongside packets of dried herbs, no doubt.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "I half expect a gift shop with tea-towels and jam is probably on the agenda as well!"

      I'm sad to report they already have the gift shop in place, with the usual detritus of "Keep calm and carry on" miscellany and seemingly little of true relevance to the site.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        And maybe Stephen Fry for the tour description. For the LULZ.

      2. wolfetone Silver badge

        "I'm sad to report they already have the gift shop in place, with the usual detritus of "Keep calm and carry on" miscellany and seemingly little of true relevance to the site."

        I'm sad to confirm this, but don't forget they have big rubbers saying "For big mistakes".

        How apt.

        1. Jonathan Richards 1
          Joke

          Big rubbers

          > big rubbers saying "For big mistakes"

          Is that rubber erasers or, umm, some other product?

          1. SoaG

            Re: Big rubbers

            They could probably shift a few novelty ones labeled Colossus

  3. Gordon Pryra

    Nothing new here

    As anyone who has worked for any large charitys, organisations or other areas like local government and the NHS will attest.

    Small minded hitlers worried about their own little empires exist all over the place.

    Logic takes a back foot and what is right and wrong is given less priority than tick boxes and ring fencing your own area of control.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nothing new here

      As usual the W@nkers in suits have moved in (as the have in all big IT institutions).

      The real heroes as usual, the ones who know what they are doing end up with Seagull Managers (fly in Sh1t on everything and fly off again with the food).

      :(

      1. Steve Evans

        Re: Nothing new here

        I saw the BBC report on the TV last week, so I'm glad to see you cover the issue here.

        I found the whole tone of what the Bletchley Park trust said and did disgusting and completely out of touch.

        As other have said, the men in suits have moved in.

        The whole charm of this place was it's Heath Robinson nature. Sure leaky roofs need fixing, but the whole place was a lash up in the 1940s, and should remain that way.

        To replace it with a glossy plastic "visitor experience" is turning it into a theme park.

    2. Dr. Ellen
      Big Brother

      Re: Nothing new here

      I've worked for museums. Sounds like the way they operate.

      1. Ted Treen
        Big Brother

        Pournelle's Iron Law

        Iron Law of Bureaucracy

        In any bureaucracy, the people devoted to the benefit of the bureaucracy itself always get in control and those dedicated to the goals the bureaucracy is supposed to accomplish have less and less influence, and sometimes are eliminated entirely.

        Sums it all up rather well, doesn't it?

    3. zb

      Re: Nothing new here

      I always wondered where Captain Mainwairing went after he left the bank.

  4. ColonelDare

    So Sad

    I have visited Bletchly twice in the past and found the visits very interesting and evocative of a time that I heard my parents talking about. I was recently asked by a neighbour whether I recommended Bletchley. as a day out? (it is a 400 mile round trip for us.) I was minded to yes, and "can I come too" - but given the bad blood and the seemingly poor value judgements regarding removing valid existing displays (Churchill out, McAfee in), my answer to my neighbour will be, No - and I'm not bothered to come too if you do go.

    Sadly.

    1. VinceH Silver badge

      Re: So Sad

      "and I'm not bothered to come too if you do go."

      Quite. It's been one of those places I'd like to visit if I'm ever in the area - but now I'm not so sure I'd be inclined to bother.

  5. dervheid
    Thumb Down

    Unbelievable

    I witnessed this broadcast last week. Utterly unneccesary and disgraceful treatment of someone who'd been a voluntary guide for decades. Clearly Iain Standen has little or no concept of the integrity and interdependancy of both parts of this site. He seemed to be more concerned with his little pet project visitor center.

    If you read this Mr Standen, I suggest you resign. You are an arse.

    1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      Re: Unbelievable

      I happened to see that BBC program as well. The schmuck put on his blank managerial face on and was talking out of his own arse.

      These morons should be smeared with pitch, rolled in feathers and kicked out the door to find their own way home and never come back.

      I hope someone will raise enough stink for the Lottery to suspend their funding until this bunch of morons is replaced.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Unbelievable

        If you are done, I can invite you to have a visit with my local mayor...

  6. Adrian 4 Silver badge

    eh ?

    What's the point of going to Bletchley Park if you can't see Colossus ? Are they spending £8m so visitors can enjoy the lake and the garden ?

    1. Piro

      Exactly. What the hell?

      This is an absolute disgrace.

    2. Gordon Pryra

      The lake and garden?

      Sorry Adrian 4, you have been misinformed, they are going to make way for the car park and additional turn styles

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The lake and garden?

        Bletchley is to become just a brand it seems - and once you have a brand, what do you do?

        Yes, you milk it.

    3. David Barrett Silver badge

      Exactly, I don't see how you can have one without the other, NMOC should up and move to a different site as it sounds like Bletchley park don't want that particular part of their history to be shown..

      Or they could just put up a massive sign informing punters that "This is where the real history happened" lower their rates to be £1 less than the park and watch the parks admissions disappear...

      1. Sheridan Williams

        Visit The National Museum of Computing for only £5

        It's only £2 to see Colossus or £5 for the whole National Museum of Computing. You can visit this without paying £15 to see B Park.

    4. Thoy

      THAT is not the point.. The computer museum is an "add on " to the Bletchley Park experience and should be seen as such.. They might get more visitors if the was a small additional; charge to see it

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dear Mr. Standen,

    I was thinking of organising a school trip, but I've just changed my mind.

    P.S. You don't own British history, you know.

    1. Sheridan Williams

      Visiting The National Museum of Computing

      It's only £2 to see Colossus or £5 for the whole National Museum of Computing. You can visit this without paying £15 to see B Park.

      TNMOC takes over 5,000 students a year to see its museum, you are welcome here of course.

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Re: Visiting The National Museum of Computing

        Next time I'm down in MK, I'll make a point of visiting TNMOC, and then going to the pay booth at Bletchley Park and explaining at length why I'm not giving them my money.

  8. Peter Galbavy

    Corrupt executive here as well?

    I wonder how much of the budget goes on paying for corrupt career little-hitlers like the CEO? Surely a proper investigation by another committee is what we need?

    1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      Re: Corrupt executive here as well?

      I would also suggest to take a close look at the choice of contractors, expense reports and see if the list of employees happens to include his wife, nephew and a couple of uncles...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Corrupt executive here as well?

        Hmm - I like that. Nothing mini-hitlers dislike more than scrutiny and supervision..

    2. Historian

      Re: Corrupt executive here as well?

      As a registered charity, the Bletchley Park Trust Limited has to files its financial statement each year with the Charity Commission:

      http://apps.charitycommission.gov.uk/Showcharity/RegisterOfCharities/CharityWithPartB.aspx?RegisteredCharityNumber=1012743&SubsidiaryNumber=0

      According to the most recent financial statement (for 2012), CEO Iain Standen joined in February 2012 and was paid "in the range of £80,000 to £90,000" for that year.

      The total wages bill was £983,116.

      1. TNMOC peter

        Re: Corrupt executive here as well - not at TNMOC

        "The total wages bill was £983,116."

        and for comparison that is 3 times the TOTAL income/donations TNMOC received for a similar period (upto march 2012). Our wages bill was under £20K (that's 4 people).

        http://apps.charitycommission.gov.uk/Accounts/Ends74%5C0001109874_AC_20120331_E_C.pdf

        You get a lot more bang for you pound at TNMOC

        Please help us by becoming a member or contributing to the Colossus gallery upkeep.

        http://www.justgiving.com/MuseumMembership

        http://www.justgiving.com/Tim-Reynolds4

  9. xenny

    The ridiculous thing here is that Colossus (Which is what the computer museum has) is arguably a computer; a Bombe, which is what Bletchley is exhibiting, isn't.

    It's almost as if the wrong organisation is getting all the sponsorship.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The Bombe is apparently also owned by the computer museum so will probably be moved there also.

      1. TNMOC peter

        Bombe ownership

        "The Bombe is apparently also owned by the computer museum so will probably be moved there also."

        No, it is not owned by us, but is owned by a separate group/trust, so another exhibit that BPT do not own or can get their mitts on. As to it moving... I don't know - we are pretty full with exhibits.

        Colossus is also not owned by us but by a trust formed from Tony Sales estate and 2 others I believe and is not going anywhere. This ensures, in the unlikely event that TNMOC fails, it does not automatically go to BPT.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @xenny

      "It's almost as if the wrong organisation is getting all the sponsorship."

      Well, as lotteries have been described as a tax on stupidity (and government officials may have been involved), that's what you'd expect. At least the whole affair is consistent.

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