The former Bentwaters airbase is home to a fascinating museum of Cold war history, based in the United States Air Force 'hardened' command post. The museum is thought to be the only such building in Europe open to the public. The command post is a a large bunker, used by the USAF throughout the Cold War and only abandoned in 1993, after the fall of the Berlin Wall and collapse of the former Soviet Union. It took a team of volunteers three years of hard work to restore the main 'War Operations Room' and the 'Battle Cabin' to their original condition. Features include a decontamination showers and airlocks meant to keep personnel safe in the event of nuclear war. The public can now see this former top-secret high security military installation as it would have been at the height of the Cold War.
In addition to the command centre, other parts of the base have been converted into a fascinating museum tracing the history of the Bentwaters base from WWII until its closure. Follow the history of limitary units stationed at Bentwaters, particularly the 81st Fighter Wing, and learn about Bentwaters' twin base, RAF Woodbridge. Displays explain the history of the Cold War period - an excellent teaching tool for families and schools. Exhibitions feature the Aggressor Squadrons, based at Bentwaters, and the 'Special Operations/Rescue Squadrons' based at Woodbridge. The Bentwaters Cold War Museum offers a unique glimpse into the depths of the Cold War period, and the top-secret command centre used by the USAF.
Admission charges are displayed at main entrance. Payment must be by cash - no cheques or cards accepted. Free guided tours available on request. Water bowl for service dogs. Dog Parking with water bowls provided. Museum is all on ground floor and carpeted throughout, however there is a change of level with a step or a ramp, between 2 of the display areas and the entrance to the building. Seating is provided in the main museum room. Lighting is mainly artificial with display panels having spot lighting. Toilets, male and female, are inside and within 10 metres of the Reception. Toilet doorways are too narrow to accomodate a wheelchair. These are the original toilets. Some of the rooms are not fully wheelchair accessible but displays may be viewed from the doorway. The free Guided Tour provides an experience tailored for the requirements and/or needs of the visitor. Interpretation Boards are all in large text, some with pictures. Some rooms with more complex displays are provided with returnable Visitors Guides to give more detailed information. Assistance dogs are welcome.
Location : Building 134, Bentwaters Parks, Rendlesham, Woodbridge, Suffolk, IP12 2TW
Transport: Melton (National Rail) then taxi (4 miles). Bus Routes : no service.
Opening Times : 10:00 to 16:00. Click here for open days.
Tickets : Adults £5.00; Concessions £4.00; Children (to 14) Free
Tel: 01473 310783