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. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Didn't Google donate lots of money to one of these organisation ... if so then there's an obvious opportunity of Apple to take their feud with Google to another level!

    1. messele

      Ok who had Apple on the first page on their 'Irrelevant Bingo' card?

    2. TNMOC peter

      Google & Apple

      "Didn't Google donate lots of money to one of these organisation ... if so then there's an obvious opportunity of Apple to take their feud with Google to another level!"

      Google donated £500,000 to BPT a few years back and may have put more money in since.

      Google have also helped TNMOC with sponsoring our education program for the past 2 years and also sponsored our newly opened "Women in Computing" gallery, also supplying most of the interactive hardware for it.

      We welcome any financial donations from any company big or small, without which we could not have made the world-leading computer museum that we have.

      See www.tnmoc.org

  2. Yet Another Commentard

    Not sure I understand this...

    Volunteer gets fired for showing important museum exhibit to interested museum visitors?

    What next, Natural History Museum curator fired for showing dinosaur bone fossil to interested schoolchildren?

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Not sure I understand this...

      FFS don’t give the creationists ideas!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not sure I understand this...

      What next, Natural History Museum curator fired for showing dinosaur bone fossil to interested schoolchildren?

      A British Museum attendant once allowed a visitor from the Far East look round their oriental collection which at the time was in a part of the museum that was closed due to some structural problems with the building. Result was a few weeks later the visitor contacted the museum to say the he wanted the collection to be open for everyone to see and he was prepared to pay for a new gallery for it

    3. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: Not sure I understand this...

      Geology graduate sanctioned for doing unpaid geology work?

    4. Robert McGregor

      Re: Not sure I understand this...

      New grounds for sacking due to Gross-Misconduct:

      "The employee appeared to be doing his job in an extremely efficient and helpful way"

      1. Chairo

        Re: Not sure I understand this...

        and he even did it for free - how horrendous!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Gross-Misconduct

        Sounds like government employee union rules.

      3. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Not sure I understand this...

        "...New grounds for sacking due to Gross-Misconduct:

        "The employee appeared to be doing his job in an extremely efficient and helpful way""

        If you don't think this happens every day, have I got news for you.

        I lost my last job for just this reason.

  3. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    Appalling!

    I feel like banging some heads together to make them see sense. Stop squabbling, stop acting like 5-year-old kids in a playground, and be of service to the community. Colossus and the H-blocks are an essential part of world history. They should be open to the public, they should be part and parcel of computing history as well.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Appalling!

      Ah - that's the key difference between the two parties: the volunteer party was indeed doing for the benefit of the community. The new party gives presently more the impression it's just in it for themselves.

    2. Sheridan Williams

      Re: Appalling!

      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. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Future of work

    Mass tourism is now a source of employment in the UK, so has attracted management who have goals and responsilities beyond showing off the local sites of interest. What to a volunteer is an interesting building with historical associations has become a career for someone.

    .

    1. CaptainHook

      Re: Future of work

      exactly, there's money to be made

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Law of Unintended Consequences

    I have a feeling that once Bletchley Park erect their fences to stop their visitors seeing the computers, many of their potential visitors may opt to visit the National Museum of Computing instead, and give Bletchley Park itself a miss.

    Part of the attraction of the place is the old volunteers with their stories of how things were. Take them away and the magic will be lost. Shame on these management idiots.

    1. Evan Essence

      Re: The Law of Unintended Consequences

      Is it possible, though, to access the National Museum of Computing without also paying for access to Bletchley Park?

      1. Evan Essence

        Re: The Law of Unintended Consequences

        (Too late to Edit: a later posting links to Visit the National Museum of Computing which says that yes, it is possible to visit just the Museum.)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Law of Unintended Consequences

      For the ignorant, what is at bletchley park if not the computer?

  6. Malcolm Catling

    One of the main reasons I used to go was to see the Colossus and the museum of computing. I am actively dissuading people from going now, just had visitors from USA and directed them elsewhere (Duxford). If a modern gift shop is planned it would be a tragedy, So petty, and sad for the volunteers who made it a great experience.

    1. Evan Essence

      I went to Bletchley some years ago, and they had a gift shop then. Par for the course, nothing wrong with one per se. I bought a couple of books and a Bletchley-themed tea towel, which is still in regular use.

    2. Not That Andrew

      Why stop people going to the National Museum of Computing? They have done nothing wrong it's the PHB's up at Bletchly Park are at fault.

  7. GettinSadda
    Alert

    Coming Soon...

    I hear that they are waiting for approval of a nice grant to bulldoze the entire site and build an Enigma-themed attraction with rides and fast-food joints. Just think of how much profit they'll make!!

  8. hooch

    Sad, sad, sad.

    Visit Bletchley Park and be prevented from viewing Colossus? Just what planet are these people living on? It sounds like the marketing droids have taken over. I had the pleasure of Tony Sale showing us Colossus a few years ago as part of the Bletchley Tour but must be turning in his grave. Sort it out!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sad, sad, sad.

      Visit Bletchley Park and be prevented from viewing Colossus? Just what planet are these people living on?

      Sadly they're probably on the new planet where everything is about feelings and not facts. Who wants to look at a boring machine when you can read about the people who worked there and see the important messages of how lots of women did important things, we can feel as sense of smug superiority when we can celebrate Turing being gay, etc etc.

      Its the modern way of museums. Bristol used to have an "Industrial Museum" which covered various industries that had been established in Bristol - especially a gallery on aerospace industry full of Rolls-Royce engines etc. That has now become "the M:shed" and is mainly about what a diverse multicultral community Bristol is and how we all get one with each other etc ... there's a small bit about industry - aerospace is reduced to a Harrier engine and a small bit of text and, as far as I have seen, there's no mention whatsoever of the high-tech microelectronics industries in the area. And, when it was being converted the main features that seem to be advertised about what was coming was that the new "museum" would have "a huge atrium entrance with shop" and "a greate cafe"

      The other modern direction for museums, exemplified by the rejigged Egyptian section of Bristol City Museum, is to convert museum sections in to Key Stage 2 learning resources.

      1. Mint Sauce

        Re: Sad, sad, sad.

        Its the modern way of museums. Bristol used to have an "Industrial Museum"

        This is the first thing that came into my head as I was reading...

        If you want to see the true horror of what awaits, visit the M-Shed in Bristol. Gone are most of the interesting exhibits that stimulated the imagination and interest. Instead we have small text panels, large photos, and lots of 'audio experiences'

        Adults are no longer welcome in this excuse for a museum, it's just for spoonfeeding kids tiny snippets of information so they're not taxed too much by having to actually think for themselves.

        Hope BP doesn't go the same way :-(

      2. coastwalker

        Re: Sad, sad, sad.

        Don't worry, this country doesn't need engineers or scientists, what it needs are social workers to look after the half of the country who are unemployed and living on benefits.

        1. ecofeco Silver badge

          Re: Sad, sad, sad.

          "Don't worry, this country doesn't need engineers or scientists, what it needs are social workers to look after the half of the country who are unemployed and living on benefits."

          ...while being blamed for their "shortcomings" and "laziness."

      3. Trixr Bronze badge

        Re: Sad, sad, sad.

        Oh shut up. This anti-social history bandwagon you're apparently on has absolutely nothing to do with this moron acting like a complete c*ck.

        Actually, the people story is part of the story of the technology. The technology should not be made subordinate to the people story, no, but how many books/articles have you read about the development of transistors and the IC that don't mention Shockley, Kilby, Noyce et al?

        So yeah, not everyone who worked with the technology was a straight white man. Get over it and focus on the real issue here - yes, the potential "dumbing down" of the exhibits, but in this instance it's primarily about management who don't have a clue about what visitors are there for.

    2. rh587 Bronze badge

      Re: Sad, sad, sad.

      Doesn't sound like you're prevented from from seeing Collosus per se. Merely that if you go to Bletchley, you have to pay separately to go into NMC to see Collosus, which is lunacy. Everyone involved needs their heads smashing together with the force of a Bombe, or just firing. There should be a simple "site pass" that covers the multiple attractions/museums on the site.

      It sounds like NMC have been lobbying for just such a site pass and revenue share scheme but Bletchley have declined. Of course we don't know what those discussions were like or whether either party were being reasonable with what they wanted percentage-wise.

    3. hooch

      Re: Sad, sad, sad.

      ...and here is the official 'spin'.

      http://www.bletchleypark.org.uk/news/v.rhtm/Crossed_Wires_at_Bletchley_Park-755638.html

      They really don't get it, do they?

      1. Blitterbug
        Thumb Up

        Re: Sad, sad, sad.

        Thanks, hooch. They have a 'Contact Us' link so I helpfully alerted them to the coming shitstorm caused by their crass behaviour, and included the URL of this article.

        1. Evan Essence

          Re: Sad, sad, sad.

          I'm sure they're very well aware of the shitstorm. The story's all over: The Independent yesterday, local papers, IT Web sites (apart from the venerable Reg, of course), etc. Google "Tony Carroll Bletchley", for instance.

          1. Blitterbug

            Re: Sad, sad, sad.

            I'm sure they are well aware too, but it doesn't hurt to register formal disapproval on their actual website

  9. Ed 13

    Seen it many times before

    It's a sad reflection on human nature, unfortunately.

    I have seen it occur a number of times in different organisations where volunteer labour is used. Someone volunteering there is doing it because they like it, and think it's a worthwhile cause, so the usual relationship between the company and employee doesn't exist.

    Combined with some peoples tendencies to let a little power go to their head, and suddenly they think they are running ICI.

    I'm sure they'll work it out, but I suspect the path will be littered with further incidents like this, which will help no-one at all, which is a pity as it wastes effort and demoralises others.

  10. Chemist

    "heroic codebreakers of Bletchley Park"

    innovative, hard-working, painstaking, exhausted, essential and lots of other positive adjectives - yes but heroic ?

    1. auburnman

      Re: "heroic codebreakers of Bletchley Park"

      Given they were seen as draft-dodgers and spat on in the street, not allowed to tell anyone they were a vital part of the war effort, although their lives weren't on the line I would say heroic is a borderline acceptable descriptor.

    2. eddystone82

      Re: "heroic codebreakers of Bletchley Park"

      Probably more heroic than footballers, etc who are described as heroic these days.

    3. JEDIDIAH
      Linux

      Re: "heroic codebreakers of Bletchley Park"

      They were heroes. So they were heroic by definition.

  11. Graham Triggs

    Need to know more detail, but...

    Everything I've heard about what is going on at Bletchley Park suggests that Lottery funding should be withdrawn, until they come up with a better plan that includes the National Museum of Computing.

    And very serious questions should be asked both of the BP management, but also the lottery until this resolved.

    1. Evan Essence

      Re: Need to know more detail, but...

      I wonder what role the Heritage Lottery Fund has in this. They keep tight control of their projects and insist on certain things happening or not happening. He who pays the piper, etc.

  12. YetAnotherPasswordToRemeber
    WTF?

    I went to Bletchley Park a few years back and the National Museum of Computing was as good as anything else at Bletchley so I don't understand this as Colssus was a significant part of the effort at Bletchley, so the one ticket should get you into both things.

  13. PeterO

    Just to clear up some misunderstandings. You are (and will) will still be able to view Colossus by visiting The National Museum of Computing rather than the Bletchley Park trust's site. Colossus gallery is open every day, the rest of TNMOC is open Thursday,Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

    See http://www.tnmoc.org/visit for full details.

  14. Jedit
    Mushroom

    How ironic it is that people are being prevented from seeing a vital piece of the history of Hitler's defeat by exactly the kind of banally evil bureaucrat he would have loved.

  15. Stern Fenster

    Just what we need...

    More f***ing Unskilled Management suits screwing up something that worked in order to further their own miserable kiddie-brained mini-empire. How much is this dim ignorant half-arsed principle-less space-wasting excrement-lobed cognitively-flatulent smug gutless cowardly sneak-weaselling spunk-bubble of a so-called CEO paid, do you think? More than a volunteer? Let me guess...

    Disgusting scum. Just like in the NHS.

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Just what we need...

      " ... dim ignorant half-arsed principle-less space-wasting excrement-lobed cognitively-flatulent smug gutless cowardly sneak-weaselling spunk-bubble ..."

      You, sir, are a poet! Have one on me -------->

    2. Tel

      Re: Just what we need...

      Hmm. Am I to infer that you don't like the man? ;)

      (FWIW, I agree with you. A lobotomised monkey would appear to be able to do the job better.)

    3. ecofeco Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Just what we need...

      Poet indeed! Have another on me! ---------------------------->>

  16. MJI Silver badge

    I wanted to go.

    But no Colossus no visit.

    Oh and I want elderly people who know the place intimately to show me around.

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