The Bentwaters Aviation Society was formed to preserve the history and heritage of the ‘Twin Bases’ at RAF Bentwaters and RAF Woodbridge for future generations. This will be achieved mainly through the society’s involvement with the Bentwaters Cold War Museum.
The Bentwaters Cold War Museum (BCWM) opened it doors to the public for the first time in May 2007. This was the culmination of a project that began some six years prior.
The original idea was for a room in the control tower to be set aside for memorabilia and photos but this idea was subsequently changed to something that was on a much larger scale. The new plan saw the former hardened Wing Command Post as the base for the Museum, a building that itself has a very interesting history. The Command Post was the nerve centre of the Bentwaters and Woodbridge ‘Twin-Base’ complex during exercises (and in the event of war). In April 1986 the Command Post was manned for Operation El Dorado Canyon (the United States Air Force raids on Colonel Gadaffi’s headquarters in Libya. The building’s last operational milestone was during the first Gulf War in 1991, which saw it manned for the duration of the conflict in support of the A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft that were deployed to theatre.
Operated and administered by volunteers from Bentwaters Aviation Society (a registered charity), the BCWM portrays the history of RAF Bentwaters and RAF Woodbridge from the Second World War through to when the USAF withdrew from both bases in 1993. The most important period of operation of the ‘Twin-Bases’ was during the Cold War and, as the Museum’s name suggests, this is the main focus of the exhibits.
Two key rooms in the Command Post have been restored to an operational appearance. These rooms are the Battle Cabin and the War Operations Room. Although unmanned during normal day-to-day operations, they would have been the two most important rooms during exercise and wartime. Additional rooms have been turned into ‘themed’ exhibitions. These cover the history of Bentwaters and Woodbridge in general, Special Operations units at Woodbridge, the ‘Aggressor’ unit at Bentwaters and a miscellaneous exhibition room which includes a Cold War timeline. The Museum also includes a multimedia room where visitors can expect to see video presentations and film shows.