We welcomed a film crew from BBC Inside Out to the school on Monday 22 May to capture the unique role in music that the town and school played during World War II. In a special feature to be aired this autumn, local historian and OB David Fowler (47-56) was interviewed about the part the town and school played.
In July 1941, the BBC’s Symphony Orchestra was evacuated to ‘safer’ areas outside war-torn London and made its home in Bedford. Unbeknownst to the listening public – for reasons of national security – the Symphony Orchestra broadcast to the world from the Corn Exchange in Bedford. On occasion, however, because this was still a functioning corn exchange, there were times when the 200-strong orchestra needed an alternative venue. And so Studio 7 was created – the Great Hall at Bedford School. With its wooden galleries it had great acoustics and it became one of the orchestra’s favourite locations.
The Great Hall wasn’t the only Bedford School venue used by the BBC. In February 1942, the BBC transmitted a Sunday morning service from the School Chapel – this was broadcast Europe-wide to boost the morale of servicemen held in occupied Europe. Evensong was often broadcast from the Chapel during this period, and on three occasions, members of the school participated in these broadcasts.