Leisure => Cinema, Theatre, Radio & Filming => Topic started by: colin haggart on August 10, 2011, 21:19:51

Title: Cinema organs.
Post by: colin haggart on August 10, 2011, 21:19:51
This Wurlitzer I saw and heard in a museum in Thursford, Norfolk.
It came from a cinema in Leeds.   Anyone know what may have happenend to ones  that used to be in cinemas and theatres in Kent?

(http://i278.photobucket.com/albums/kk90/colinhaggart/102_1111.jpg)

Title: Re: Cinema organs.
Post by: Bryn Clinch on August 10, 2011, 22:40:43
The organ that was in the Ritz, Chatham is now at the Buttermarket, Shrewsbury and the one previously in the Gaumont at Gillingham I think is in New Zealand.  I can`t remember what happened to the organ from the Gaumont/ Majestic, Rochester and as far as I know there wasn`t one in the Regent, Chatham due to the `pit` flooding (as the Odeon in Sittingbourne). I`m relying on memory and could be wrong. Somewhere on the Forum there`s an answer to your question, Colin, but I can`t find it at the moment. I`m sure Barrowboy will correct me if I`m wrong and give a more comprehensive answer.
Title: Re: Cinema organs.
Post by: Barrowboy on August 11, 2011, 09:45:21
Barrowboy to the rescue! Bryn, you are correct regarding the Ritz, Chatham, this organ is now in the Buttermarket at Shewsbury - although the building is in receivership and the organs future is in doubt. The Gaumont, Chatham Compton organ was unfortunately scrapped in 1961 when the cinema was converted into a bowling alley. The Regent (Odeon) Chatham was never fitted with an organ - although provision was made. It is quite possible that this was due to flooding issues. The Rochester Majestic/Gaumont/Odeon, had a lovely Compton which was removed in 1961 and installed in a church in Orpington. This was later removed and shipped to Holland. For many years Medway folk could still enjoy cinema organ music at the Rochester Organ Studio on Star Hill. The Ex ABC Canterbury organ was installed in the childrens nursery here and regular Sunday afternoon concerts were held. Sadly after the owner's (Stan Port) death the organ was split up, never to be heard again.

I have quite a collection of organ literature and would be happy to look up details in other areas of Kent for Forum members.
Title: Re: Cinema organs.
Post by: Andyb on August 11, 2011, 19:38:44
JPDeejay and I have been searching for years of any bits of the Christie 3 Manual organ that was removed in 1960, from the Granada Cinema Castle street Dover, but alas after many hours no luck..........................
Title: Re: Cinema organs.
Post by: Bryn Clinch on August 12, 2011, 08:43:58
The only information that I know is that it was sold to an organ enthusiast. Help!!!! Barrowboy.
Title: Re: Cinema organs.
Post by: jpdeejay on August 12, 2011, 10:08:58
If only we knew who that organ enthusiast was, maybe we need a time machine to go back!!!!!
Title: Re: Cinema organs.
Post by: Barrowboy on August 12, 2011, 12:34:56
The only information I have, from the British Installation List, is that the 3 manual, 7 rank (sets of pipes) Christie was removed in the 1950's and broken down for re-use. I have posted a plea for information on the Yahoo Cinema Organ group and await a response. Hopefully, I will come back with some more news at a later date.
Title: Re: Cinema organs.
Post by: Deano on August 12, 2011, 19:59:21
Although the Sittingbourne Flicks was well out of date,
 i wish there was a nearer picturehouse now it has closed
Title: Re: Cinema organs.
Post by: Barrowboy on August 13, 2011, 15:50:15
I now have a little more information regarding the Granada Dover organ. It seems to confirm that the organ was removed and broken down to be sold as spares:

From my records the organ was removed and broken down by Monk & Gunther of Bruce Grove in the 1950's.


Recently the sons, now at Enfield, were selling-off Christie parts and one of these was the Tibia from the Granada.


Don't know if anyone bought this but I purchased the one from Rivoli Souhend which was a metal rank and its' chest stamped 2713.


Christie consoles were stacked outside under a lean-to. They were piled three high. One day they burnt them all.


If only I'd had a camera.

As a point of interest, these organs were stripped out of cinemas in their 100's during the late 50's early 60's and could be purchased very cheaply - if only the purchaser had the room to instal them. They now occassionaly turn up on e-bay and go for a song (sorry, couldn't resist that pun).
Title: Re: Cinema organs.
Post by: Bryn Clinch on August 13, 2011, 17:11:11
That`s a sad story, Barrowboy. Did you know about this one that was `saved`, if only partially?

http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=N14674
Title: Re: Cinema organs.
Post by: Barrowboy on August 14, 2011, 11:35:15
Bryn, I did not know that an ex-cinema organ was installed in Christchurch, Canterbury. I must look into that.

Further to my earlier posting, I had stirred a few memories on another internet site. One contributor has posted this somewhat "atmospheric" account of visiting the organ dealer which stripped the Christie from the Granada/ABC Dover:

A visit to Monk & Gunthers was quite an experience.


They were in an old terrace property with an undistinguished door in darkest old London Town. One could only suspect that they had something to do with organs by a battered row of pipes hanging squint above the threshold (Probably damaged in the Blitz). Once the bell was rung it took a long time for someone to answer.  It was like entering the haunted mansion complete with creaky door which only opened wide enough to let you side-in sideways due to the fact that the walls were lined, on both sides, with various sets of pipes. In fact the whole place was full of complete and remains of organs, with only enough room to carefully pick you way down the middle of the floor. Very much reminicent of a scene from a black and white Dickens film or Harry Potter set. Mr Monk and Mr Gunther were very friendly but mysterious characters. My most vivid memory was of the Melotone horns hanging from the rafters of their large sheds round the back. There must have been a dozen at least. The poor Christie consoles and a Morris car entombed amongst enormous piles of newspapers. Compton Cinema Organ consoles were lurking round every corner and a very strange organ was set-up, which played two notes for every pipe. Apparently this was some peculiar patent that M&G had tried. They must have removed more Christie and Comptons than any other company plus the occasional Wurlitzer. When both the fathers died the death duties crippled the business forcing the sons to sell-up and move. It was quite hard to buy anything, as their stock answer was " Give us some time to look out the parts". This meant weeks or months. Not much good when you'd travelled a long distance to see them. As this a part of Cinema Organ history, the likes of which we are unlikely to see again, anyone else who was the dubious honour of getting inside should share their experiences too.

Regards, Barrowboy


Title: Re: Cinema organs.
Post by: rayjohnston on December 04, 2011, 16:22:31
Barrowboy to the rescue! Bryn, you are correct regarding the Ritz, Chatham, this organ is now in the Buttermarket at Shewsbury - although the building is in receivership and the organs future is in doubt. The Gaumont, Chatham Compton organ was unfortunately scrapped in 1961 when the cinema was converted into a bowling alley. The Regent (Odeon) Chatham was never fitted with an organ - although provision was made. It is quite possible that this was due to flooding issues. The Rochester Majestic/Gaumont/Odeon, had a lovely Compton which was removed in 1961 and installed in a church in Orpington. This was later removed and shipped to Holland. For many years Medway folk could still enjoy cinema organ music at the Rochester Organ Studio on Star Hill. The Ex ABC Canterbury organ was installed in the childrens nursery here and regular Sunday afternoon concerts were held. Sadly after the owner's (Stan Port) death the organ was split up, never to be heard again.

I have quite a collection of organ literature and would be happy to look up details in other areas of Kent for Forum members.

Hi all

I am the son-in-law of Stan Port, and I can report that his Compton organ was sold to a Cinema Organ collector in North West Wales and as far as I am aware is in safe hands. I am certain I can find out exactly where it is from his daughter who was responsible for the sale. 

Ray Johnston
Title: Re: Cinema organs.
Post by: Bryn Clinch on December 05, 2011, 13:39:55
That`s good news, rayjohnston. I`m sure many people would be interested in the organ`s whereabouts.
Title: Re: Cinema organs.
Post by: man-of-kent on December 05, 2011, 18:24:04
In case anyone didn't know, this is what happened to the Christie organ that was in the Granada Maidstone.
http://www.theatreorgans.com/southerncross/Queensland/KelvinGrove.htm
Title: Re: Cinema organs.
Post by: JohnWalker on December 05, 2011, 19:23:11
Barrowboy to the rescue! Bryn, you are correct regarding the Ritz, Chatham, this organ is now in the Buttermarket at Shewsbury - although the building is in receivership and the organs future is in doubt. The Gaumont, Chatham Compton organ was unfortunately scrapped in 1961 when the cinema was converted into a bowling alley. The Regent (Odeon) Chatham was never fitted with an organ - although provision was made. It is quite possible that this was due to flooding issues. The Rochester Majestic/Gaumont/Odeon, had a lovely Compton which was removed in 1961 and installed in a church in Orpington. This was later removed and shipped to Holland. For many years Medway folk could still enjoy cinema organ music at the Rochester Organ Studio on Star Hill. The Ex ABC Canterbury organ was installed in the childrens nursery here and regular Sunday afternoon concerts were held. Sadly after the owner's (Stan Port) death the organ was split up, never to be heard again.

I have quite a collection of organ literature and would be happy to look up details in other areas of Kent for Forum members.

Hi all

I am the son-in-law of Stan Port, and I can report that his Compton organ was sold to a Cinema Organ collector in North West Wales and as far as I am aware is in safe hands. I am certain I can find out exactly where it is from his daughter who was responsible for the sale.  

Ray Johnston

Interesting information rayjohnston.  The first film I ever saw was at the ABC Canterbury - Wizard of Oz - around 1952/3 I think.

I remember the organ and was totally fascinated by it.  If I remember correctly there were various instruments behind a high level art deco style grill on the left and percussion on the right.  Would love to hear a cinema organ again some time.  Not sure if any still left in Kent that are played.

John
Title: Re: Cinema organs.
Post by: man-of-kent on December 05, 2011, 21:30:18
Keep an eye on the progress of the Margate Dreamland Restoration. If they complete the job, then the Compton Organ could play again.
Title: Re: Cinema organs.
Post by: CDP on December 06, 2011, 11:32:23
There are many "  ..... organ club  " in existence with many elderly? professionals who play the circuits around England. Would these clubs or the organists know what happened to these organs. Just a thought ! There is an Organ Club in Sheerness and in Sittingbourne.
Title: Re: Cinema organs.
Post by: Bryn Clinch on December 06, 2011, 15:52:18
In case anyone didn't know, this is what happened to the Christie organ that was in the Granada Maidstone.
http://www.theatreorgans.com/southerncross/Queensland/KelvinGrove.htm

Thanks for that, man-of-kent! It took me back a `few` years as, when I was in my `teens, I had the opportunity to play this organ. Came up on the console lift to the `Dambuster`s March`. Used the drum roll and cymbals - an experience I`ve never forgotten. Your link mentioned the problems with the piano attachment - it didn`t work when I tried it. The Manager told me that a trumpet rank had been removed and installed in the big Christie (Hill, Norman & Beard) organ in the Dome, Brighton. I`ve tried to get confirmation of this but nobody seems to know anything about it. It was a long, long time ago. Happy days!
Title: Re: Cinema organs.
Post by: Rochester-bred on December 06, 2011, 17:35:23
Back in the early 80s there was an elderly taxi driver in Chatham/Rochester who used to play organ music in his cab and i can remember many a night coming home in the wee hours from work and sitting listening to the music in his cab till a piece had ended, Was lovely.
Title: Re: Cinema organs.
Post by: colin haggart on December 06, 2011, 21:44:52
Keep an eye on the progress of the Margate Dreamland Restoration. If they complete the job, then the Compton Organ could play again.

I want to have a go on it.
Title: Re: Cinema organs.
Post by: Bryn Clinch on December 07, 2011, 10:03:07
Keep an eye on the progress of the Margate Dreamland Restoration. If they complete the job, then the Compton Organ could play again.

I want to have a go on it.

Me too, colin haggart! There`s another big organ in Dover Town Hall that hasn`t spoken for years, a four manual concert organ and larger than the Dreamland Compton. There are proposals to restore it, but the anti-brigade reckon that nobody will want to play it. Can you believe that? If Margate can do it, surely Dover can!
Title: Re: Cinema organs.
Post by: JohnWalker on December 07, 2011, 13:21:39
From todays Dreamland Newsletter.

PROJECT UPDATE The Dreamland’s Grade II* listed cinema building is now beginning to shrug off its scaffold cloak; of particular interest is the fin which provides the backdrop to the Dreamland lettering.Thanet District Council have agreed funding to replace the existing lamps with LED lighting, work which Coombs (Canterbury) Ltd. are undertaking. This means that the new lighting will be more energy efficient with minimal maintenance costs whilst providing a more robust and stable solution. We anticipate seeing the first 5 restored iconic signage letters on the Dreamland Cinema Building fin being test lit on Friday 16 December, 2011 – time to be confirmed – but no doubt after sun set. The sign will be lit nightly thereafter until Sunday, 1 January, 2012. A fantastic historic opportunity to capture the illuminated Dream coming true !Remaining works are progressing well, with the unseasonal mild weather enabling the external re-pointing and structural repairs to be pushed along, together with the replacement roof coverings.

The time is soon approaching when we will have power to the cinema organ, at which point we will be inviting David Wattenbach back to visit and report on its current condition.

John
Title: Re: Cinema organs.
Post by: AntonioTyler on July 31, 2013, 10:33:13
From todays Dreamland Newsletter.

PROJECT UPDATE The Dreamland’s Grade II* listed cinema building is now beginning to shrug off its scaffold cloak; of particular interest is the fin which provides the backdrop to the Dreamland lettering.Thanet District Council have agreed funding to replace the existing lamps with LED lighting, work which Coombs (Canterbury) Ltd. are undertaking. This means that the new lighting will be more energy efficient with minimal maintenance costs whilst providing a more robust and stable solution. We anticipate seeing the first 5 restored iconic signage letters on the Dreamland Cinema Building fin being test lit on Friday 16 December, 2011 – time to be confirmed – but no doubt after sun set. The sign will be lit nightly thereafter until Sunday, 1 January, 2012. A fantastic historic opportunity to capture the illuminated Dream coming true !Remaining works are progressing well, with the un seasonal mild weather enabling the external re-pointing and structural repairs to be pushed along, together with the replacement roof coverings.

The time is soon approaching when we will have power to the cinema organ, at which point we will be inviting David Wattenbach back to visit and report on its current condition.

John

Yes, new lighting is far more efficient and needs much less maintenance. Things are improving in the modern world:)
Title: Re: Cinema organs.
Post by: colin haggart on July 31, 2013, 22:40:21
I'd love to hear and see it working, I wish I could be there when David tries it out.
Title: Re: Cinema organs.
Post by: AntonioTyler on August 01, 2013, 16:40:20
From todays Dreamland Newsletter.

PROJECT UPDATE The Dreamland’s Grade II* listed cinema building is now beginning to shrug off its scaffold cloak; of particular interest is the fin which provides the backdrop to the Dreamland lettering.Thanet District Council have agreed funding to replace the existing lamps with led light (http://www.niceledlights.com), work which Coombs (Canterbury) Ltd. are undertaking. This means that the new lighting will be more energy efficient with minimal maintenance costs whilst providing a more robust and stable solution. We anticipate seeing the first 5 restored iconic signage letters on the Dreamland Cinema Building fin being test lit on Friday 16 December, 2011 – time to be confirmed – but no doubt after sun set. The sign will be lit nightly thereafter until Sunday, 1 January, 2012. A fantastic historic opportunity to capture the illuminated Dream coming true !Remaining works are progressing well, with the un seasonal mild weather enabling the external re-pointing and structural repairs to be pushed along, together with the replacement roof coverings.

The time is soon approaching when we will have power to the cinema organ, at which point we will be inviting David Wattenbach back to visit and report on its current condition.

John


Yes, new lighting is far more efficient and needs much less maintenance. Things are improving in the modern world:)

Yes lights have improved in last few years..
Title: Re: Cinema organs.
Post by: JanR on May 12, 2014, 19:38:35
The Rochester Majestic/Gaumont/Odeon, had a lovely Compton which was removed in 1961 and installed in a church in Orpington. This was later removed and shipped to Holland.


I have quite a collection of organ literature and would be happy to look up details in other areas of Kent for Forum members.
Hello Barrowboy and friends.

I'm a man from Holland and am pleased to say that the Compton which is shipped to Holland still is fully operational.
Last year my friends and i completely restored the console and improved it.
I've made also two websites about this organ and the other cinema organs in the Netherlands.
The "Lady Compton" is now situated at Haarlem in a Streetorgan Museum.

If you want to have detailed information about the "Lady Compton" please let me now.

If you have information or pictures of this organ at Rochester and Orpington it would be most welcome.
But also pictures and information of the building itself would be interesting.

This Saturday, Eddie Ruhier will perform a spectacular concert on the Compton Cinema organ and in July, Len Rawle will give a wonderful concert.

For information: http://www.comptonhaarlem.nl and http://www.theaterorgel.nl

I hope we can help each other.
Regards,
Jan.
Title: Re: Cinema organs.
Post by: Barrowboy on May 13, 2014, 16:14:46
JanR, delighted to hear that the Rochester Compton is still singing in its new home in Holland. I have attached a few photos which you may find of interest. The exterior shots show the cinema in all its three guises, Majestic, Gaumont, then finally Odeon. The interior photo shows the organ in its "up" position and gives a fair view of the stalls area of the auditorium. I know that the Cinema Theatre Association carry an extensive collection of cinema photographs in their London archive. Although these are not viewable on-line at present, there is currently an ambitious project where all of this archive is being digitalized for on-line viewing. Can I suggest that you contact the CTA Archivist, Clive Polden via his e-mail address: cta-archive@hotmail.co.uk should you require further information.

Carry on the good work on the organ. Surprised, but pleased, that the Kent History Forum has spread its wings to Holland.

Barrowboy
Title: Re: Cinema organs.
Post by: Barrowboy on May 13, 2014, 16:21:27
Sorry, I forgot to select the "more attachments" button. Here are the external shots of the Majestic / Gaumont / Odeon.
Title: Re: Cinema organs.
Post by: JanR on May 13, 2014, 20:28:13
Barrowboy,

Many thanks for the pictures.
I recognize two of them but your version is better than mine.

Thanks also for your suggestions and information.
I will contact Mr. Polden

We love our Compton and it will be cherished  :)

JanR.
Title: Re: Cinema organs.
Post by: JanR on May 29, 2014, 13:56:58
I've been in contact with the CTA Archivist, Clive Polden.

He sent me a couple of beautiful pictures of the Compton. If I have permission to publish the pictures I will post some of them.
I hope I also can be in contact with someone who worked at the Compton on the Majestic Theatre.

I have a lot of questions ;-)

JanR.
Title: Re: Cinema organs.
Post by: JanR on May 30, 2014, 18:47:09
Mr. Polden has sent me a couple of pictures of the Compton cinema organ. Wonderful pictures.
As promised I share with you those pictures.

Does anyone of you know someone who worked in that cinema or at the Compton organ ?
It would be most welcome to contact him or her. Maybe he or she can tell me more about this great cinema and organ.

Photos courtesy of Cinema Theatre Association Archive.
best wishes,
Jan.
Title: Re: Cinema organs.
Post by: Barrowboy on June 01, 2014, 13:30:45
Jan, I'm pleased that Clive Polden could help you regarding the Majestic organ. I did meet George Blackmore (who is featured on one of the photos). In the 1930's he was a bright young local lad who won a scholarship to study organ at Rochester Cathedral. However, he was far more interested in the Compton installed, just down the road, in the Majestic. After a few private sessions learning the intricacies of the cinema organ, George became relief organist, then full time organist at the.Majestic.

In the 1970's Stan Port, bought the Compton organ from the Canterbury ABC cinema and installed it in the children's nursery he owned in Star Hill, Rochester. Stan was very proud of this instrument and held monthly organ concerts for the public. Who better to play at the opening concert than George Blackmore? I was lucky enough to be in the audience for this concert. The organ sounded great and George told many stories of his youth in Rochester. It was a great homecoming for him. The Stan Port concerts continued for many years until he sadly died. The organ was sold to a buying in Wales but, as far as I'm aware, has never been heard in public again. So, as you can see, George Blackmore has been associated with no less than three public organs in Rochester.

Best wishes to you Jan and all organ friends in Holland.