Underground home to unique war film collection comes up for auction



A purpose-built underground storage facility that is home to the Imperial War Museum’s unique film archive is coming up for auction next week.

The facility at Duxford – 12 miles south of Cambridge and three miles from the Museum itself – cost £4m to create and consists of 11 purpose-built storage units on a 12-acre site. It contains rare and original footage spanning two World Wars, and is being offered for sale by commercial property auction house, Acuitus, with a guide price of £225,000-£250,000.

David Margolis of Acuitus comments: “We’ve had tremendous interest in the property as it is both a very interesting investment and also has a fascinating current use. A new owner would receive current annual rental income of £37,696, and the site also has long-term potential”.

The property is currently let to The Trustees of The Imperial War Museum until 2060. However, it is understood that the museum’s requirement for the continual use of the facility may decrease in the coming years, and from next year it has a rolling option to terminate its lease.

David Margolis comments: “If the museum did vacate then the owner would be in possession of a very highly specified secure storage facility which could be used for high value items such as art works or other collections. Alternatively, should the Museum ever vacate the site then the new landlord can request that the tenant comprehensively reinstates to agricultural use, which is likely to be at considerable cost to the tenant. Alternative use potential then comes into focus, subject to planning of course”.

The Imperial War Museum film archive is a major national, educational and historic resource containing original source material including footage of the Battle of The Somme. The collection includes 44,000 reels of nitrate film dating until 1950 when cellulose nitrate film was replaced by the more stable cellulose ‘safety’ film.

The auction takes place on April 4th 2019 at the Radisson Blu Portman Hotel, 22 Portman Square, London W1H 7BG.

To view full information about the property, click here


  • The museum’s film collection includes reels of original nitrate film dating from 1901 until 1951
  • It stores war film used in documentaries such as the BBC’s They Shall Not Grow Old’, where Lord of the Ring’s Director, Peter Jackson, added colourisation, sound effects and voice acting to WW1 footage, and from the Battle of the Somme
  • The war footage or contents are not included in the sale. It is the facility itself and the surrounding land.