Alan Turing and St. Leonards-on-Sea

Alan Turing, mathematician, cryptanalyst and computing pioneer, was born 100 years ago, on June 23, 1912. Although he has always been one of my heroes, I only recently found out that he was brought up in St. Leonards, a few minutes away from where I live.

His father was in the Indian Civil Service, and his parents returned to the UK for his birth, which took place in Maida Vale, London. When he was about one year old, his parents returned to India, leaving Alan and his older brother with a retired army couple, a Col. Ward, and his wife, who lived in St. Leonards in a large house, Baston Lodge, in Upper Maze Hill with their own children, and a nanny. The house is still there, and has a blue plaque commemorating his stay there. When he was six, he attended St. Michael's day school at 20 Charles Road, until he was 10, when he went to Hazlehurst preparatory school. The building is still there, converted into flats. He and his brother weren't very happy with the Wards, and they stayed with a different family when he was at Hazlehurst. When he was 13 he joined his older brother at Sherborne School in Dorset, where he stayed until he went up to Cambridge. Their parents retired to France at about the time he went to Sherborne, and the brothers stayed with them during vacations. Turing doesn't appear to have had any connection to St. Leonards after he left the Wards.

I had an indirect connection to Turing when I was a student apprentice with English Electric at Kidsgrove, Stoke-on-Trent., they still had an operational DEUCE computer when I started work there in 1962. The DEUCE had been built at Kidsgrove (they made about 30 of them) and was based on the Pilot ACE computer, an earlier version of which Turing designed when he worked for the National Physical Laboratory. The Kidsgrove DEUCE was decommissioned around 1963, and donated to a technical college.

Leon Heller

Baston Lodge, where Turing lived with the Wards.

Commemorative plaque.

20 Charles Road, where Turing went to school.