In 2020, Bentley Priory Museum secured a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to record and share the memories of RAF and WAAF personnel who worked in the Top Secret Bunker at RAF Bentley Priory, focusing on the key historical periods of the Battle of Britain in 1940 and the Cold War from 1945 to 1991.
The underground bunker was completed in haste in 1940 as Nazi Germany threatened to invade Britain and was developed for use throughout the Cold War period as political tensions remained high. Personnel within the bunker at Bentley Priory during both historical periods were responsible for identifying enemy encroachment of British airspace and co-ordinating the RAF’s response. After nearly 70 years of internationally important work, the bunker closed in 2008 when the RAF left Bentley Priory.
The bunker temporary exhibition is now open at the Museum.
Come and hear first-hand accounts of what it was like working in the bunker from those who knew it best.
Come and learn about the highly important work carried out in the bunker from WW2 through the Cold War.
The Museum are delighted that we can now share the story of the bunker outside its imposing blast door, incorporating the fascinating oral histories gathered throughout the project.
For those who are unable to visit the Museum at this time, volunteers have created a podcast series featuring their oral history interviews, available here.
Episode 1: Welcome to Bentley Priory – Defending Britain from Nazi & Nuclear Threat
Episode 2: Down the Hole
Episode 3: Intercept
Episode 4: The Artist
Episode 5: Eyes and Ears – the ROC part 1
Episode 6: Eyes and Ears – the ROC part 2
Episode 7: Eyes and Ears – the ROC part 3
Episode 8: In Conversation with Jim Bee and Paul Smith
Episode 9: The Dowding System with Air Marshal Cliff Spink
Episode 10: Women in the Air Force Part 1 – WAAF, Flight Sergeant, Gladys Eva
Episode 11: Women in the Air Force Part 2
Episode 12: Reflections
As part of the project, a series of online talks are being delivered. Please enjoy them in your own time here.
Bentley Priory Museum Online Talks: The Berlin Blockade and Air Lift, 1948 – 1949, by Aldon Ferguson
Bentley Priory Museum Online Talks: Britain’s Vietnam War, by Stuart Hadaway
Bentley Priory Museum Online Talks: Iron Lady or Iron Chancellor? by Alastair Noble
Bentley Priory Museum Online Talks: My Cold War – Fighters and Lots More by AM Cliff Spink