Plaque unveiled at Turing’s home in St Leonards

Cllr Roberts, Cllr Chowney, Cllr Westley, the council's lead lember for leisure, (including the museum) and Cathy Walling, museum curator
Cllr Roberts, Cllr Chowney, Cllr Westley, the council's lead lember for leisure, (including the museum) and Cathy Walling, museum curator

THE work of a code-breaking genius has been recognised by the unveiling of a blue plaque at his childhood home in St Leonards.

Alan Turing worked on breaking German codes at Bletchley Park during the Second World War, which proved vital to the war effort.

A plaque was unveiled by Mayor Alan Roberts on Saturday at Mr Turing’s former home in Upper Maze Hill, as part of a celebration on what would have been his 100th birthday.

Deputy council leader Peter Chowney then gave a speech.

Cllr Chowney said: “I think it is only right that we mark the town’s connection with this amazing man, who changed the world twice.

“His work on the Enigma code at Bletchley Park during the Second World War allowed us to pinpoint German u-boats and protect the north Atlantic convoys, without which the outcome of the war could have been very different. His subsequent work, showing that complex mathematical calculations could be reduced to ‘binary’ code and represented by a simple on/off switch, led to the development of the modern digital computer, and was similarly world-changing. It was a tragedy that his life was cut short, and quite incredible that homosexuality was treated by chemical castration as recently as the 1950s. I believe he should be awarded a pardon for a crime that simply should never have been.

“It is no exaggeration to say that Alan Turing was one of the most remarkable people ever to have lived, and I am very pleased indeed that his childhood home in St Leonards has now been recognised.”

Mr Turing, who was educated at St Michael’s School in Charles Road, St Leonards until he was 14, studied maths at King’s College, Cambridge.

His paper On Computable Numbers would prove fundamental to the development of modern computing and for this, he is generally regarded as the father of computer science.

In 1952 he was convicted of gross indecency following a relationship with another man and underwent hormonal treatment as an alternative to prison.

As a result of his treatment, Mr Turing committed suicide in 1954 by swallowing cyanide. He received a posthumous apology in 2009 from the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown who labelled the treatment he got as ‘utterly unfair and appalling’.

Earlier this year though, a campaign, backed by supporters in Hastings, to grant Mr Turing a pardon for his conviction was rejected by the Government, despite an online petition with more than 23,000 signatures.

l AN academic is calling for the inquest into Mr Turing’s death to be reopened, saying the maths genius may not have committed suicide.

Professor Jack Copeland, director of the Turing Archive for the History of Computing said evidence was ‘overlooked’ in 1954.

He added that Mr Turing could have died as a result of inhaling cyanide he used in amateur experiments accidentally, rather than deliberately ingesting it.