Report by James Cracknell
The National Lottery Heritage Fund has made a £91,600 grant to support the creation of a museum at Trent Park House – which will tell the incredible wartime story of the ‘secret listeners’.
Trent Park is recognised by Historic England as being of national and international significance “on a level with Bletchley Park” for its critical role during the Second World War. British intelligence services used the Georgian-style mansion house to accommodate 3,000 German prisoners over the duration of the conflict – and bug their conversations.
Teams of secret listeners – mostly German-Jewish immigrants – worked in the basement to record the conversations taking place above them. Sworn to secrecy by the Official Secrets Act, most never spoke of their important clandestine work towards Britain’s war effort and the full story was only revealed 70 years later.
Plans for a new museum at Trent Park to celebrate the wartime role of the secret listeners have been in the works for several years but it has taken time to secure all the funding they need. Now, with the support of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, it is hoped the museum can open by spring 2022.
Jason Charalambous, co-chairman of Trent Park Museum Trust, said: “The National Lottery Heritage Fund grant is a huge boost to the project, and the trust is grateful for the vote of confidence in Trent Park House.
“We are working on securing the remaining sums needed to develop the site, however this is challenging in the current environment as we compete with other institutions who are struggling with the consequences of the lockdown.
“Any support from the public would be very gratefully received – opening Trent Park House really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity which will be of considerable public and educational benefit.”
Information gathered at Trent Park House about new German technology enabled Britain to win the Battle of Britain and also revealed details of Hitler’s deadly V-weapons and atomic bomb programme.
For more information about Trent Park Museum Trust: