The Bentwaters Cold War Museum Progress Update
by Jon Saunders
Even though Bentwaters has been closed for over 10 years now, it still feels strange having access to the base and its buildings. If someone had said to me that I'd be driving all over the base and photographing all the buildings back in the days I used to gaze through the fence near the Wantisden Church, I'd probably have told them they were mad. It holds a lot of memories for all of the museum volunteers and myself, as I'm sure it does for anyone reading this. Whatever magic the old place used to have its definitely still got it.
Well, since my last posting there's been a lot of work done on the various rooms in the museum building and also several other interesting things have happened. The museum is situated in the old Hardened Wing Operation Centre.
The War Ops and Battle Cabin rooms have been totally repainted and are now ready for the console units, squadron status boards, lights and curtains etc to be installed. This is no mean feat as it involved several hundred square yards of rubbing down and repainting. We will be glad if we never see a can of matt black paint or a sanding block again. The Aggressors room is taking shape also. The room has been repainted and there are now the outlines of the squadron patches pencilled on the wall, thanks to the cunning use an overhead projector and some OHP slides. Who says these home design programmes are a waste of time.
The system that controls the door entry and exit system through Decon 2, 3 and 4 is now operational. This system will normally be turned off, but may be activated when the museum has special open days. We still have a problem with the electronic locking mechanism on the mesh corridor door. This has involved us having to climb out the emergency hatches a few times. This should be fixed soon though.
We have had several interesting contacts regarding the museum also, including a member of the pentagon staff, an ex 91st FBS pilot from the 50's, a guy that was involved with the planning and installation of the bunkers in the USAFE, several ex-pilots and ground crew and several current USAF members, including some Special Ops members. We also have a guy who used to work in the Hardened Wing Operations Centre on the volunteer team. Our knowledge of the Bunker and the base has increased no end since my last report. Put it this way if the base was still open one of you guys would probably have to arrest us.
We have also had several fantastic donations of Bentwaters memorabilia and the promise of many more. We are still pursuing the possibility of getting an F4 and an A10 (fingers crossed).
I will keep this site informed on updates on the museum projects progress, and hopefully if any of you manage to make it across the pond you'll come and visit the Bentwaters Cold War Museum. If anyone has any items they would like to donate to the museum for possible inclusion as a display item please feel free to contact -
Or write to:
Bentwaters Parks Ltd
The Control Tower
www.bentwatersparks.co.uk - the Bentwaters parks web site, has a large gallery of site photos you may find bring back a few memories. www.bentwaters.org - a great site for everything that was RAF Bentwaters and RAF Woodbridge.