Brian Sims

GCHQ unveils new exhibition in Scarborough detailing historic work

GCHQ RECENTLY opened a new exhibition at Scarborough Library showcasing previously secret artefacts which have been part of the organisation’s ongoing mission to keep the country safe.

GCHQ has loaned a selection of historic artefacts to the library to give visitors a glimpse at the agency’s innovative historic work. Departmental historian David Abrutat brought the displays to life with a talk to celebrate its opening.

Artefacts on display have included German coding disks, a radio used to train intercept operators and historic decrypted wartime messages. Visitors have also been able to go back in time and try their hand at Morse code and breaking the famous Enigma code on simulators.

For their part, youngsters were invited to take part in a spy trail around the library, learning about encryption and cyphers as part of a special Code Breaker Challenge. With Scarborough Science and Engineering Week running this month, GCHQ wanted to help inspire an interest in STEM and encourage more young people to put their innovative thinking skills to the test.

Behind the scenes

Originally from Scarborough, Abrutat said: “This exhibition takes you behind the scenes at GCHQ’s site in Scarborough, telling the fascinating story of how signals intelligence has evolved. It features the stories of the people who worked there, past and present.”

He added: “Technology continues to evolve. We’re pioneering a new kind of security for our increasingly complex and interconnected world in response. Our goal has always been the same. In short, to ensure the UK’s people, businesses and interests remain safe and secure. Historically, Scarborough has always been a core part of this mission and we very much hope this comes across in the exhibition.”

The GCHQ Officer in Charge at Scarborough noted: “Scarborough is the longest continuously serving site for signals intelligence in the world. From providing timely intelligence to US President Kennedy at the brink of nuclear war during the Cuban missile crisis through to the modern day efforts against terrorism and serious crime, the work that goes on at Scarborough has been, and will continue to be, at the forefront of our national security.”

The Officer in Charge also stated: “We have such deep history here and a really close relationship with our community so I’m proud to be able to share more of our history like this. There’s a lot of detail that we cannot share, but we would urge members of the public to come and view that detail which we can.”

History of GCHQ

The library will be running various activities related to the exhibit throughout the year. A further feature of the exhibit will be a printed summary of the history of GCHQ in Scarborough since 1914. Visitors can purchase a copy of this document, with the profits going to Irton Moor Charities Fund.

There will also be volunteers on hand with GCHQ knowledge and expertise, They’ll be able to answer questions about the artefacts and GCHQ’s history.

The exhibition is due to remain in situ for the foreseeable future, with artefacts and activities being regularly updated.

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