London Blog

The Scientific Tourist In London: #17 Alan Turing’s Birth Place

The streets of Maida Vale and Little Venice are a pleasant place to stroll. The area is characterised by wide (for London) boulevards lined with grand, immaculate houses. In one such property, on 23 June 1912, a boy named Alan came into this world. Almost 100 years on, the world is a very different place, thanks partly to Alan Turing.

The story of Turing’s life is now reasonably well known. He’s essentially famous for two great achievements: leading the successful efforts to break the German Enigma code in WWII, and laying many of the foundations of what we now know as computer science. He’s also remembered as a victim of prejudice; he was prosecuted and ‘treated’ for homosexuality during an era that took a dim view of same-sex relationships. His life ended in 1954, aged just 41, in an apparent cyanide suicide.

But everything began here, on Warrington Crescent. The birth is commemorated by a blue plaque, unveiled on 23 June 1998 (which would have been Turing’s 86th birthday). The building was a hospital at the time of Turing’s birth, but was converted into a hotel in the 1930s. According to Wikipedia, famous guests included Sigmund Freud, Liam Gallagher and Woody Harrelson.

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