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Alan Turing – BBC’s Greatest Icon of the 20th Century

ATAlan Turing has been named the BBC’s Greatest Icon of the 20th Century, beating other Scientists including Marie Curie and Albert Einstein and eventually winning out of a group of finalists such as Muhammad Ali, David Bowie and Nelson Mandela. We wanted to celebrate Turing (especially as Connell is situated on Alan Turing Way) so we have posted Metrolink signs with QR codes around college and students can scan them to find facts about Turing’s life, work and eventual death.


Turing was part of a codebreaking team helping to decipher the Enigma machine used by the Germans during World War 2. He has been credited for helping to end the war up to two years earlier than it would have without his influence. He designed one of the first automatic computers and was a leading theorist in Mathematics and Computer Science.

We decided it was pertinent to link Turing to LGBT History Month, as Turing was gay and a prominent figure when looking at homosexual legal history in the UK. Homosexuality was illegal in the UK and Turing was arrested for ‘gross indecency’. To avoid time in jail, as he did not want to be away from his important scientific work, he accepted a hormone treatment known as chemical castration. He died in 1954 of cyanide poisoning and at the time his death was attributed to suicide.

In August 2009, Prime Minister Gordon Brown issued a public apology to Turing for the way he was treated because of his sexuality and in 2014 the Queen issued him an official pardon. In 2016, the ‘Turing Law’ was established which aims to retroactively pardon all men who were convicted for homosexual acts.

LGBT Connell