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Court files of Enigma codebreaker Alan Turing go on public display in Chester

Files are being displayed ahead of Chester Pride festival, which starts on October 1

Alan Turing on his election to the Royal Society, March 1951

Historic court files revealing the details of World War Two enigma codebreaker Alan Turing’s convictions for homosexual behaviour are to go on public display for the very first time.

The story of Alan Turing’s vital contribution to the allied campaign during World War Two was brought to life in the film, Oscar-winning The Imitation Game and now, the record of what followed in Cheshire’s courts is available for public viewing.

Recognised by many for his role in helping crack the Enigma code, Turing took his own life after undergoing experimental chemical castration following a conviction for gross indecency in 1952 after he admitted a sexual relationship with a man.

Alan Turing court document from 31st March 1952

The sentence was eventually repealed and Turing was given a posthumous Royal Pardon after a major campaign in 2013.

The official court documents provided by Cheshire County Archives list the charges, pleas and sentences passed on Turing during his trial in Knutsford and they will be on public view at Chester Town Hall from Friday, September 23 until Sunday, October 9.

The files are being displayed ahead of this year’s Chester Pride festival, which starts on October 1, and they form part of a new heritage project called ‘Pride in the Past’, which aims to tell the story of Cheshire’s LGBT communities over the last 2,000 years. The Turing display marks the start of the year long project which will see volunteers conduct an exhaustive search of historic records in Chester for other individuals put on trial for their sexuality, with their names and stories recorded and remembered in a commemorative event in 2017.

Chair of Chester Pride Helen Pickin-Jones said: “These are court files of international significance.

“Alan Turing is hailed as the pioneer of computer science, but the sad sequence of events that ultimately led to his suicide in 1954 begin right here in these documents. Just a few simple lines of text reveal the appalling treatment of one of our national heroes – a man who happened to be gay, but a man who helped save millions of lives during World War Two and supported the Allied effort to defeat Nazi Germany.”

The files, extracted from the Cheshire County Archives, launch the “Pride in the Past” project, a joint initiative between Chester Pride and Big Heritage, supported by funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and backed by the Museums and Archive teams at Cheshire West and Chester Council.

Original 1950s court files of Enigma codebreaker Alan Turing go on public display for the first time. Richard Euston, senior heritage officer at Big Heritage and Helen Pickin-Jones, chair of Chester Pride

The displaying of the court records has also met with the approval of LGBT rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who was at the forefront of the bid to secure Turing’s Royal Pardon.

Peter said: “Congratulations to Chester Pride on working to secure the public display of Alan Turing’s ‘criminal’ records.

“This revelation and exhibition of these previously unknown, hidden documents is an important public service and a great contribution to LGBT history.”

Chester Pride will also lay on a book of commemoration next to the display for the public to share their thoughts and feelings about the issues faced by Turing and the LGBT community, both in the past and today.

Helen added: “By putting these files on public display for the very first time ahead of this year’s Chester Pride festival, we hope to help recognise Alan Turing’s contribution and legacy, to champion and raise awareness of the LGBT community, and to celebrate the diversity of our wonderful city.”

Chester Pride, now in its fourth year, will be returning on October 1 to Castle Square Chester, near Chester Crown Court. This year the M&S Bank Main Stage line up delivers an exciting mix of modern and classic hits, with R&B girl group Stooshe bringing attitude and energy to the headline slot with their hits ‘Black heart’ and ‘Waterfalls’.

Chester Pride, attended by more than 8,000 people in 2015, remains a free event and is a celebration of diversity and support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Chester Pride 2016 line-up revealed

Starting with a parade through the city at 12pm, there will be entertainment on the M&S Bank Main Stage from 1pm, along with two additional performance spaces – The Glitter Lounge Cabaret Stage sponsored by MBNA and Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and the Drum With Our Hands Original Music stage. Pride will also include a Health, Life and Wellbeing Zone housing over 70 stalls from the public sector, voluntary groups and charities, a children and young people’s zone, a fairground and a marketplace.

To keep up to date with all the Chester Pride news, upcoming fundraisers and further announcements visit www.chesterpride.co.uk , follow twitter @chesterpride, or Facebook Chester Pride UK.

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