The Glenn Miller Trust

 

RAF Twinwood Farm
RAF Twinwood Farm Station in Bedford England is where in 1944 Glenn Miller boarded a C64 Norseman aircraft bound for France and was never to be seen again.

In 1999 I visited this site and discovered that the Control Tower was where Glenn had often visited during his stay in England while serving with the USAAF.

Twinwood was a transit point for Glenn and the orchestra where they would fly in and out of during their tours of American and RAF bases around England.

The control tower in 1999 was a sad looking building with all the superstructure rusted away, windows broken, and doors missing but the main structure was sound.

Walking through the building on that cold December day in 1999 I was quite moved by the experience knowing that Glenn Miller the man I had admired all my life because of his wonderful music probably had been at this very spot 54 years before I set foot in that place.

So moved by this experience I returned home and immediately set out to write an article about this visit to Twinwood which I published in Big Band Buddies International magazine.

In that article I had said, "To let this building deteriorate further would surely be a great pity". I know over the past years several of the bands who played tribute concerts to Glenn Miller at this site have used the control tower as a backdrop. The crowds who had come to see this must have felt as I do that somehow this building should be preserved in some way to honour Glenn's achievements in music and especially the time he spent in the UK using Twinwood as his transit base . "I understand that the present owners, Dave and Liz Wooding, do have plans to replace the many broken windows in the building and this surely would help to protect it from further deterioration. To regenerate the building or the suggestion that somehow this could be turned into a museum, is to me an exciting prospect. What problems this would present to the owners could be so enormous that it would make it not only an impossible if not improbable task to perform. But the dream of this control tower standing revamped as it were to the condition of an operational control tower, filled with memorabilia of the Royal Air Force and Glenn Miller's contribution to music as a standing monument to him would surely be a place where the thousands of fans would wish to visit and be part of. To hold concerts on the lawns in front of the tower from time to time by those orchestra who play his music, is a must, and I hope that even if no more was to come of the tower dream, at least the concerts will still happen with the blessing of Dave and Liz Wooding"

The New owners of this site in 1999 were building an equestrian arena and their plans were to hold annual horse trials there. We were shown the arena that had been built and that was ready for events to take place then.

A few months after the publication of my article I received a letter from Richard Green who had read about my visit to Twinwoods and thought like me that the building should be saved and used as a Museum dedicated to Glenn Miller, and as he live not too far away from Twinwood in Bedfordshire he was prepared to go and see Mr Wooding and put the idea to him.

This he did and on his return wrote to me saying that Mr Wooding was not interested in developing the Control into a Museum for Glenn Miller but would be prepared to lease the building for this use providing we were prepared to repair the building and form a trust and that he would then rent it to us for that purpose.

So without thinking of what we were getting ourselves into we immediately contacted several people known to be dedicated Glenn Miller aficionados namely, Chris Way author of 'Glenn Miller IN Britain Then and Now', Connie Richards (A well known enthusiast who had a large collection of memorabilia who lived in the area) and John Watson co director with Ray McVay of the Glenn Miller Orchestra (UK), and together with myself and Richard Green we formed a committee and set about to recruit as many enthusiasts as possible to raise funds to take on this project which we Named ''The Glenn Miller Twinwood Project''. Proposed to become 'The Glenn Miller Twinwood Trust'.

The Committee positions were. Chairman. Pete King. Vice Chairman; Connie Richards, Secretary; Richard Green, Public Relations; John Watson and Technical Advisor: Chris Way.
Letters were sent as many people we could think of and funds soon stated to arrive from Glenn Miller fans including several very prominent people in the music industry.

Our first objective was to get the windows and doors repaired to halt any further rain and wind penetrating into the building to stop any further deterioration. The next project subject to funds being obtained was to get the roof sealed over. With enough cash soon available we approached a local glazier for an estimate. While all this was going on I had contact Big Band promoter the late Tony Wild whom I had been working with for a while, and who was the promoter for the very popular Syd Lawrence Orchestra. He agree that we could advertise in his concert magazine programmes, and that I could travel with him to venues where we could promote the Twinwood project with displays and the adverting in the foyers.

With membership growing and some eight months into the project the repairs were about to start on replacing the windows, a double page advertisement was already printed when we were suddenly informed that we should stop and that Mr Wooding who after reviewing his experience with the Equestrian arena, and the maintenance required after an event had decided with the encouragement of some of our committee members the importance of the site for a dedicated museum and Music festival to Glenn Miller's memory, had made the decision to finance the project himself as a commercial venture.

With our obvious disappointment we soon came to realise that it would take us years to achieve what we hoped for due to the amount of money that would have to raised, as well as the problems of our ability to run such a project.

So with that we stepped back and watched the development of the Glenn Miller Festival take place at an unbelievable speed. Within two years the Control Tower was completely renovated and a Glenn Miller museum establish on the Ground floor, and the first floor recreated as a working RAF Control Tower with many artifacts donated from both Military collectors and Glenn Miller enthusiast.

To our delight the project was up and running and the opening event was planned. Dave Wooding's expertise proving to us that he was the only man who could have achieve such an amazing transformation of this old derelict RAF airfield site in such a short period of time. He told me at that time he had not any real interest or in depth knowledge about Glenn Miller's life and music, but did say then that he thought that within a short period maybe five years the interest in Glenn Miller would fade due to the time since his death and the age of his fans. Something we could not easily disagree with. So whilst the first five years of the Glenn Miller Festival being a resounding success and with each year greater expansion and development of the site with many hundreds of thousands pounds being invested into the project by Mr Wooding's company (Twinwood Events Ltd) the decisions was made to include a wider range of music interest to reach a much larger public and which as I'm sure you will see has been and is a great success, albeit that our perhaps dream of a dedicated Glenn Miller Festival has taken second place, although nevertheless is still an important part of the event which is held annually during the August bank holidays http://www.twinwoodevents.com/as well as other events on the site during the year.

It was gratifying to know that this small group of enthusiasts planted the seed to develop the site to become a memorial centre for Major Glenn Miller as a tribute to him and his work he did in this country in 1944.

It is also acknowledged that this would not have happened if it was not for the work and business experience of Dave Wooding and his company Twinwood Events Ltd., and to those who contributed their time and energy as well as many photo's and artefacts to make it happen.

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Site owner Dave Wooding

 

 

 

 

Pete King
Connie Richards
Richard Green
John Watson
Chris WayC
Tony Wild
''The Glenn Miller Twinwood Project''. poster

Restoration work underway by the owner of the site Dave Wooding and his company in 2000

Outside the Completed Contol Tower Pete King with Band Leader Bill Baker