Cold War Centre Update

Since the fantastic response to the fundraising campaign in late 2020, reaching £40,000 in just nine weeks, work has been underway to establish a rigorous Feasibility Study, to determine whether it is possible to create a sustainable Cold War Centre in Plymouth. 

The Study will be a substantial piece of work and ​form the basis of a business case should the conditions for success be satisfied. A detailed project brief has been prepared and Commodore Ian Shipperley CBE, formerly Naval Base Commander (Devonport), has agreed to lead the Study with support from various knowledgeable specialists.

CONCEPT:       There are many museums and collections dealing with military history however, none address adequately the maritime contribution to the Cold War and parallels with today’s international relations. More importantly, none have the unique draw of the UK’s only preserved nuclear submarine, COURAGEOUS; one of only 3 worldwide and arguably the best exhibited with the highest level of visitor interaction. However, COURAGEOUS is located within the Naval Dockyard and not easily accessible to the general public. The concept is therefore very simple: 

“At the heart of the CWC will be a preserved nuclear submarine acting as the centrepiece of an irreplaceable collection of artefacts displayed in an iconic setting. The CWC will portray the maritime aspects of the Cold War in an informative and entertaining way while using historic, current and future submarine & nuclear technology to promote STEM and innovation through interactive experiences.”

The name ‘Cold War Centre’ is a working title that emphasise the contribution that Plymouth and particularly Devonport played in this unique period of political intrigue and technological advancement. Timing is a key factor: a window of opportunity exists to acquire unique Cold War artefacts as part of the MoD Submarine Disposal Programme running in HMNB Devonport and display them in an iconic setting for preservation and the education of future generations. 

OWNERSHIP:              The National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN), is the prime body through which the Royal Navy explains its history. It has liaised with Plymouth’s new museum The Box, to display its heritage collection of naval figureheads. It is advising and supporting the volunteer run Devonport Naval Heritage Centre; it has expressed a desire to further extend its role in Plymouth and has agreed to receive the output of the Feasibility Study. 

TIMING:                       The report is expected to take approximately 16 weeks and to deliver its findings to the NMRN in July 2021.


  1. Further details can be obtained from Commander Ian Whitehouse, Royal Navy. 07778 789104 /
  2. Remote interviews with the Executive Sponsor – Rear Admiral John Weale, CB, OBE can be arranged.

4 comments on “Cold War Centre Update”

  1. Steve says:

    A great thing to do. I wonder if we would be able to put together some of the old ‘special fit’ kit from the era.
    Now THAT would be an interesting project.
    Steve White
    ex Submarine Special Fit REA SCU
    ex SFEO SCU
    ex JSSU (O)

  2. Mike says:

    I am not sure when officially the Cold War commenced, however I do hope consideration is given to the diesel electric ‘early Cold War warriors’ of the 1950s.

    Mike Hurley

  3. says:

    The exact contents of the proposed Cold War Centre have yet to be determined. We need to understand the space available, access to artefacts of all kinds and how best to tell the story. We don’t want a series of display cases with ‘stuff’ – something more interactive and involving is needed. We are reviewing both Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) possibilities.

    As to remembering the diesel boat contribution – absolutely, in many ways carrying out a Cold War patrol in an A, P or O boat was even more challenging than in the SSN era.

  4. Mike says:

    And in a T Boat!

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