National Recording Project

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Detail from: Memorial to 158 Squadron by Peter W. Naylor, 2009

ALAN TURING

Summary

Type Statue

     Portrait statue of Turing who is shown seated on a bench, holding an apple.
     Several proposals were made to commemorate Turing, including installations. Glyn Hughes suggests that bronze statues are a traditional means of memorialising national heroes, and that by using this medium "Turing is immediately marked out as one of their number." The statue is placed symbolically between a UMIST building on one side of Sackville Park, and the gay bars of Canal Street on the other, representing both sides of Turing's life. Hughes' intention was to make the Turing statue something which could not be ignored. He holds an apple, a reminder of the fact that he took his own life by eating an apple laced with cyanide, as well as a classical symbol of forbidden love. The work will cost £5,000, of which £8,000 has been raised so far (June 1999). It is due for unveiling in June 2000.(2)
     Alan Turing, (1912-1954) mathematician, wartime code-breaker and computer pioneer. Born in Paddington in London in June 1912, the younger son of Ethel and Julius Turing, the latter a member of the Indian Civil Service. Educated at Sherborne and King's College Cambridge where he studied maths, graduating in 1934. He was elected a fellow of the college in 1935 and produced a Ph.D thesis 'On the Gaussian Error Function' which won the Smith's prize. The following year he laid the theoretical groundwork for a 'universal' computing machine. He spent the next two years at Princeton University and returned to King's. However, the war intervened and he became one of the most important wartime code-breakers at the Bletchley Park intelligence unit. While there he helped to devise a computing machine (the Bombe) which could be used to decipher German 'Enigma' U-Boat messages. For this work, which helped to turn the Battle of the Atlantic, he was awarded an O.B.E in 1946. After the war, he decided against returning to Cambridge and became a principal scientific officer in the mathematics division of the National Physical Laboratory at Teddington in Middlesex, producing with his team the Automatic Computing Engine (ACE). In 1948 he took the post of reader at Manchester University and became assistant director of the Manchester Automatic Digital Machine (MADAM). In a 1951 paper 'Computing Machinery and Intelligence', Turing put forward the theory of artificial intelligence, and suggested that machines could be made to compute independent thoughts. In addition to this work, he worked on the structure of the brain and the philosophy of mind, also finding time to reach a national standing in long-distance running. In March 1952 Turing was arrested at his home in Wilmslow after the police discovered that he had been having a sexual relationship with a Manchester man. Turing did not deny it and was charged with "gross indecency." As an alternative to prison, he was forced to undergo a course of oestrogen injections which were intended to neutralise his libido. He also continued to work on quantum theory and for GCHQ, the post-war successor to Bletchley Park. The effects of the hormone treatment, and increasing pressure from the security services over his homosexuality may have contributed to his suicide. Turing took his own life in June 1954 by eating an apple laced with cyanide.(1)

Inscriptions

Plaque in front of bench: ALAN MATHISON TURING 1912-1954/THE FOUNDER OF COMPUTER SCIENCE On bench: Alan Mathison Turing 1912-1954 AZLLSFTR PLIB ACIK TTRL AEF (Founder of computer science encoded in German Enigma codes).

Related works : Similar format to statue of P. J. Cavanagh by the Royal Canal in Dublin.

Contributor details

Contributor Role
Hughes, Glyn Sculptor

Element details

Part of work Material Dimensions
Statue Silicon-bronze None
Bench Silicon-bronze None

PMSA recording information

Reference Region
MR/MCR107 MR
General condition Don't know
Surface condition
Structural condition
Vandalism
Road Canal Street/Sackville Street
Precise location Sackville Park
A-Z ref
OS ref

Sorry, we have no precise geographical information for this item.

Date of design
Year of unveiling 2000
Unveiling details 23 June 2000
Commissioned by Alan Turing Memorial Fund
Duty of care Manchester City Council
Listing status Not listed
At risk? Not at risk

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