Historic outboards find new home

Basildon collection moved to ex-Cold War bunker

One hundred and twenty five historic outboard motors have been re-homed in a Devon bunker after the closure of their original home, the Motor Boat Museum.

The Motorboat Museum at Wat Tyler Country Park in Basildon was closed by the local Council at the end of 2009.

The large collection of craft and artefacts were dispersed over the following 12 months, many being returned to their previous owners.

No other museums showed an interest in the collection motors, therefore, in an attempt to keep the collection together, the ‘Friends of the Motorboat Museum’ undertook the task to re-home the outboards in an ex-Cold War bunker near Salcombe, Devon.

The 33,000 sq ft bunker was being developed as a tourist attraction by a local amateur historian.

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There had been no activity for a decade apart from the occasional open day but the developer believed he would be able to attract a considerable number of summer holidaymakers particularly if he was able to provide certain rooms with exhibitions.

Although the ‘Friends’ recognized the bunker had an uncertain future it seemed probable that the outboards would be safe there for a few years and the majority have now been relocated (pictured).

It is the most comprehensive collection of outboards in Britain. The entire history of the outboard motor covers some 100 years and a wealth of documentation exists through publications such as the original Motor Boat magazine.

It is a complex story full of technical innovation and the rise and fall of businesses and the resulting lessons are still relevant in the 21st century.

The ‘Friends’ hope that by preserving and displaying the Collection it will allow later generations to benefit from the hard won experience of their boating ancestors.

Opening times of the bunker can be sourced locally.

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