Get in the swing at centenary ball

Carol Sanders and Brian Crozier, in the 1940s room at Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre, prepare for the Centenary Swing Ball. (Photograph by Van Werninck Studio, Montrose).
Carol Sanders and Brian Crozier, in the 1940s room at Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre, prepare for the Centenary Swing Ball. (Photograph by Van Werninck Studio, Montrose).

Montrose Air Station’s 100th anniversary celebrations will hit a high note on June 15 when Montrose Town Hall becomes a 1940s’ ballroom.

At Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre’s Centenary Swing Ball, the fabulous Sellars Brothers Big Swing Band will turn the musical clock back to the 1940s with the sound of the big bands of the swing era, including Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman.

“This is a chance to enjoy the music of the 1940s at its very best,” said Centenary Swing Ball organiser Neil Werninck, one of Montrose Air Station’s team of dedicated volunteers.

“I defy anyone with an ounce of rhythm running through them to remain in their seats when the Sellars Brothers are playing!”

Neil explained that, in addition to the Sellars Brothers Big Swing Band, which features a male vocalist, highly-talented local singer Kirsten Tomlinson of Songbook Melodies will be performing songs from the era, while dancers from the Esk Academy of Dancing will be stepping out 1940s-style.

“But, of course, the real stars will be those who dance the night away at Montrose Town Hall, just as so many did in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s,” continued Neil, who revealed that the dress code for the evening will be 1940s – or ‘dress to impress’!

Dan Paton, curator of Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre, added that the Centenary Swing Ball was a way of recognising the connection that existed between the people of Montrose and RAF Montrose, and, in particular, the 2,000 young men and women stationed there prior to and during World War II.

He said: “In the 1940s, the many dance halls throughout Montrose were the hub of local social activity,” said Dan.

“Dance halls such as The Angus Hall, The Beach Pavilion, Robbie’s and the dance hall at the Air Station itself, which had its own RAF band, would be packed with local youngsters and military personnel from the base, including young man training to be pilots.

“Many romances blossomed and there were lots of weddings.”

The huge effect Montrose Air Station had on the town’s inhabitants was highlighted recently by a visitor to Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre whose parents had met at a dance in Montrose.

“My mum was from Montrose and my dad was an Australian Air Force Pilot,” revealed Alan Betts, who now lives in South East Asia and had travelled to Angus especially to visit relatives in Carnoustie and spend time at Montrose Air Station.

“My dad was a flying instructor at Montrose Air Station and he met my mum at a dance in a hall above shops in Montrose.

“And I’m very glad they did or I wouldn’t be here!”

Montrose Air Station Centenary Swing Ball, which has received event funding from Angus Council, will be held in Montrose Town Hall from 7.30 p.m. until 12 midnight on Saturday, June 15.

Tickets cost £25 each, which includes a finger buffet, and are available from Henry Hogg and Van Werninck Studio in Montrose (telephone 01674 673282).

For more information about Montrose Air Station, visit www.rafmontrose.org.uk

Britain’s first operational military airfield was set up in Montrose by the Royal Flying Corps in 1913.

The heritage centre’s collection of photographs and artefacts tell the story of RFC/RAF Montrose through the words and deeds of the men and women who served here through two world wars.