Heath Robinson Day

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On 6 April 2019, to celebrate the completion of the reconstruction of the Heath Robinson machine, the inspiration for Colossus, the Museum will have a special display of Heath Robinson wartime illustrations and host two special talks.

The Heath Robinson code-breaking machine was named after W Heath Robinson, the illustrator. Because of wartime secrecy, he never would have known.

Special guest Peter Higginson, great nephew of W Heath Robinson, will give a talk about Heath Robinson's interest in science and how it influenced his work and legacy.
Colossus Rebuild chief engineer Phil Hayes will talk about the Heath Robinson machine, how it inspired Colossus and what it actually did.
And there will be a temporary exhibition of eight original Heath Robinson illustrations in partnership with the Heath Robinson Museum in Pinner, London.


2 pm
Launch and running of the reconstructed Heath Robinson machine
In the Tunny Gallery in the presence of Heath Robinson family member and two Heath Robinson veteran operators

2.30 pm
Heath Robinson’s gadgets: the context and the legacy
Peter Higginson, art historian and great nephew of W Heath Robinson
Rather than simply the work of an odd-ball eccentric, W Heath Robinson’s inventiveness often reveals a closeness to early 20th century modern, cutting-edge ideas on art and technology. His humorous gadgetry, far from being merely whimsical, can also be viewed as serious reflections on the directions the brave new world was taking. His legacy has been extensive -- the naming of the 'Heath Robinson’ code-breaking machine is a powerful case in point, and continues to have relevance today, whether it’s on approaches to animation, directions in conceptual art, or experimental, architectural theory.

3.30 pm
The Heath Robinson machine
Phil Hayes, Colossus Rebuild chief engineer
One of the first attempts by the Newmanry to automate code-breaking, the Heath Robinson machine was a limited success but it did inspire Colossus. What was the Heath Robinson designed to do? Why was it only partly successful? How did it inspire Tommy Flowers to design Colossus? What was its postwar legacy? And what did the reconstruction team discover as they recreated it?

Tickets £25 (£10 for TNMOC members) including entrance to the Museum for one year.


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