Felixstowe campaigners seek shelter

THEY'VE done it again – or rather they haven't! After trying to get into a Napoleonic fort and a former nursing home, Felixstowe's campaigning councillors today failed in their latest mission – to get into a cold war nuclear bunker.

THEY'VE done it again – or rather they haven't!

After trying to get into a Napoleonic fort and a former nursing home, Felixstowe's campaigning councillors today failed in their latest mission – to get into a cold war nuclear bunker.

Councillors Mike Ninnmey and Harry Dangerfield, along with historian Peter Wheatley, visited the bunker again – but with no key to the padlock, its secrets will remain hidden for a while yet.

Previously the councillors – along with colleague Dot Paddick – were denied access to the Martello Tower because it was unsafe and the Herman de Stern because of asbestos.

But while their antics at trying to get into locked and disused public buildings may seem amusing to some, they have a serious side . . . trying to protect the properties and turn them into tourist attractions.

Suffolk Coastal council is backing plans to demolish the underground bunker and replace it with an amphitheatre as part of the redevelopment of the resort's 17-acre south seafront site.

Most Read

It is entering into a deal with Bloor Homes in which the company will be allowed to build 209 homes in return for some gardens and play facilities.

Bloor has not been asked to renovate the Martello Tower – the centrepiece of the site – or the cold war bunker as tourist attractions. These would be funded by the public.

Mr Ninnmey said: "I believe the Martello Tower and the cold war bunker could have a great future use if they could be opened up to the public as part of a military history trail on this part of the east coast.

"We know very little about the bunker because obviously it was a secret installation in case of a nuclear attack and we have been prevented from looking inside to see whether public access could be achieved.

"But its importance as time goes on will grow because it is now part of a historical event, a time everyone lived through.

"With Orfordness, the home of radar at Bawdsey Manor, Landguard Fort, a cold war bunker and a Martello Tower we span 200 years of coastal military defence here and it is a great opportunity which should not be lost."

Suffolk Coastal has paid £25,000 for a consultants' report on the tower's possible future uses. Although some outside bodies have been partially briefed on its contents, councillors and the public have been denied access to it.

Council officers are lobbying for support for an art gallery in the tower – an indication of the report's findings – but campaigners would prefer a museum.

"Until we are allowed to see the report, paid for with public money, we will not know what it suggests, but we hope to see some definite action to protect the bunker and tower and put them to a fitting use," said Mr Ninnmey.

The bunker, reached via a vertical flight of steps from a mound alongside the Napoleonic tower, is believed to have been a Royal Observer Corps post. During a nuclear attack it would been part of a network to test the atmosphere and give information about radioactivity.

A Suffolk Coastal spokeswoman said a risk assessment survey would need to be done before access could be allowed to the bunker in case someone suffered an accident inside.

n Would you like to see the bunker and Martello Tower opened to the public? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter