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Unless otherwise stated, all photographs are by members of The Theatre Organ Club past and present or from the collection of The Theatre Organ Club and as such are copyrighted. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of these images without permission is prohibited.


Tune in to Channel Five on Friday 28th September 2018 for ‘Walking Britain’s Lost Railways’ when presenter Rob Bell features the Manchester to Sheffield line and stops off at Penistone to film the Paramount cinema and Compton organ. A must for local interest groups, walking, railway, cinema and organ enthusiasts.

Your chance to dance to the 'new' Empress organ in Blackpool on Saturday September 8th from 7:30pm. Cameron Lloyd and David Lobban will be at the console and admission is just £5. With Howard Beaumont in concert the following Sunday the 9th why not make a weekend if it…

Kevin Grunill says: After 15 years at St Andrew's Church, Penistone, Thursday Lunchtime Organ Concerts commence at The Astoria Centre, Barnsley on 6th September 2018 at 1:00pm

2018's Patron, Cameron Lloyd says:
Join us for the 140th Gala dinner in the World famous Empress Ballroom including a 4-course meal, live entertainment and silent auction on Friday 06 July 2018. The Empress Ballroom Wurlitzer will be played from 6.45pm - 7.30pm.

Cameron has also been elected as the new Shropshire Theatre Organ Trust Chairman. Tony Byrne has been promoted to Honorary Chairman for his years of service to the Trust.

A new CD from Donald MacKenzie at the Odeon Leicester Square's original 1937 Compton Cinema Organ.  The recording is crystal clear and the organ is well captured. It is available from Donald at 5 Lewis Close, Aylesbury HP19 9AW (with cheque) or at his concerts or via eBay with PayPal (just search on his name and the CD will come up). Priced at £11.50 inc P&P.

The tracks are:

1. At the Odeon
2. Leicester Square Looks Round (March)
3. Forgotten Dreams
4. Rickshaw Ride
5. Tunes from '42nd Street'
6. Mary Poppins Film Music Selection
7. The land of might have been (from 'Gosford Park')
8. Waltzing in Song selection
9. Sweet Sue (from 'Some Like it Hot')
10. Transatlantic Lullaby
11. Grain of Rice
12. Sixties Swing selection
13. Ain't Misbehavin'
14. Sidewalk Serenade
15. The Genius of George Gershwin selection
16. You Raise Me Up!
17. George Formby Memories
18. At the Odeon


Organist Don Thompson died on January 5th 2018.
After leaving university Don got a job at the Trocadero Ballroom in Derby before moving to Brussels as organist for the their World Fair from April to October 1958.
Don was born in Kendal, Cumbria in 1934 and his interest began, like so many, in the Tower Ballroom Blackpool listening to Reginald Dixon. He was appointed assistant organist at Kentmere Church in the Lake District when he was sixteen and soon after moved to the large Stricklandgate Methodist Church in Kendal.



Upon his return to the UK he found work playing in nightclubs and ballrooms in the north. After a year spent in Beirut Don moved to the USA in 1968 and became an established Pizza Parlour organist at a variety of establishments, playing five nights a week for around 20 years.
Don returned to the UK several times and played concerts at (amongst others) Leicester Square Odeon, Regal Henley-on-Thames and finally, at the Tower Ballroom in Blackpool.

The Compton organ, formerly in the Forum cinema Southampton is currently being restored and installed in the Titchfield Festival Theatre. It is reported that the first sounds were heard from the organ on Sunday July 2nd 2018, however, there is still a long way to go viz: Tuning 1095 pipes,
getting the tremulants working, wire in Percussions, Kinura and Krummet and plant the pipes from same.
They currently have about 90% of the organ working, which is not bad considering it was first set up on March 5th.


Ted Crampton: We are sorry to report that Ted died on June 15th 2017.
Ted was a leading light in the pipe organ world for many years, regularly supplying articles and photos for the TOC newsletters.
Ted was great friends with many well-known organiats over the years including; Nigel Ogden, John Mann, Dudley Savage, Arnold Loxam and Alfred Furnish.
Ted leaves his wife Margaret and two daughters, Sally-Ann and Ruth to whom we send condolences.  

The Club is sorry learn of the passing of two names from the past: 
Esmé Hand and Robbie Ions. Esmé lived in the Leeds area for many years and played both the theatre and electronic organs in the north, notably for tea dances at the Palace Ballroom in Buxton. Esmé died on December 22nd, at the grand age of 101, after a lifetime filled with music.

George Robson Ions (Robbie) spent his whole life in music until retiring some years back. He was guest organist at the Gaumont Oldham and made other guest appearances at theatres around the country. He died on 2nd January 2017 aged 95. (photo of Robbie Ions courtesy of Joe Marsh)





Our 2016 Patron, Joe Marsh, tells us that the first two of his original compositions, The New Victoria March and Victory Parade have just published by Stainer & Bell as part of their 'Light Organ' series, and include theatre organ registration throughout. The order details are:  
Catalogue No H 493, Two Marches for Organ.
Price £6.50 plus £3.00 postage & packing (total £ 9.50 payable to Stainer & Bell Ltd) from Stainer & Bell Ltd, 23 Gruneisen Road, London N3 1DZ or from Joe at the same price (cheque payable to JW Marsh) at Tibia Villa, Lilian Avenue, Wallsend, Tyne & Wear NE28 8QJ.

The Wurlitzer, formerly in the Savoy cinema Radford, has been removed from storage after many years, and is to be installed at the Market Hall cinema in Brynmawr following restoration by Paul Kirner and his team.

Final notes at Portslade: November 13th saw the final concert on Portslade Town Hall's Compton/Christie organ. After 28 years, falling attendances mean that running concerts at the Town Hall are no longer viable. John Mann gave the organ a fine send off and it is hoped that it will play again in a new home at Ditchling.

Following Steve Tovey's funeral, £1000 was raised towards Stafford Renal Unit. The money will be used to take those on dialysis and who are unable to go on holiday, to the seaside next year. Thanks to all who donated.

Steve Tovey:
It is with great sadness that the Club learned that Steve has died.
The resurrection of the Opera House Blackpool Wurlitzer and the re-installation of an organ into the Empress Ballroom are lasting testimonies to the man and his determination.A driving force to be reckoned with, he stood no nonsense and got things done. He knew what he wanted and he usually got it.To be in Steve's company was a pleasure and those lucky enough to be classed as a friend knew of his generosity, his stubbornness, his humour and his enthusiasm, however, those who fell foul of him soon knew it.
Steve lived life to the full and even recent confinement to a wheelchair did nothing to dampen his spirit and he retained his humour and his individual outlook.
He will be sorely missed and we send sincere condolences to his wife Ann and his family and, of course, to Cameron and the rest of CCOC.



The famous Compton from the Regal Torquay has found a new home in Derbyshire.
Proud owner, Philip Ufton, who bought it at auction for £1200, now plans to restore the organ to its former glory. Once restored it will be housed in his collection of vintage items, which includes tractors, stationary engines, showmen's living wagons, lorries and other musical instruments.
Long associated with Reginald Porter-Brown, it is good to know that the Compton has a secure future and Philip is to be congratulated for saving it.

Brian Sharp:
We are sorry to learn that Brian died on January 20th at the age of 78.
A career spanning over fifty years encompassed all aspects of theatre and electronic organ playing. He began at Dudley Hippodrome as organist in variety shows and reviews and, after national service, continued at the Embassy Ballroom in Skegness, with the winter months at La Reserve theatre restaurant in Sutton Coldfield where he accompanied big name cabaret stars like Des O'Connor, Frankie Vaughan and The Beverley Sisters. Brian also broadcast on the BBC Light Programme in the Midlands, on the popular Charlie Chester music show, and on Radio 2's 'The Organist Entertains' as well as being in the house band for 'Pebble Mill at One' and 'Saturday Night at the Mill' BBC television shows in the 1970s.
Brian was, if not the first, certainly a pioneer of the art of mixing electronics with theatre pipes and appeared at many organ concerts with electronic keyboards attached to organ consoles, and whilst not everyone's cup of tea, there is no doubting Brian's musicianship.
In the 1980s Brian became resident organist at Sandford Park in Dorset, where he combined electronics with the Christie organ installed there and spent fifteen years delighting holiday audiences with his brand of music.

Brian Sharp at the Sandford Park Christie 

Ian Dalgleish:It was with sadness that the Club learned that Ian died on January 8th at the age of 79. Ian was another life-long theatre organ enthusiast and, like Mike Candy, had travelled extensively to the USA and met many famous organists and organ builders. Ian was also a well-known figure in the UK and enjoyed the best of both worlds, the big, lush sounds from the US and the distinctive sounds from the UK. He had praise for both Wurlitzer and Compton alike and understood the finer points of both.
Ian was a mine of information on organs, cinemas and recordings and also had a great love of the theatre, having past family connections with West End of London theatres. He also loved the organs of the West End of London, particularly those at the Empire, Odeon and Warner in Leicester Square. The Empire Wurlitzer was his favourite organ here in the UK, and he was so pleased to be able to get to hear it again at the home of Judith and Len a couple of years ago.
Ian was one of the characters of the organ world and will be missed by all who knew him.
The funeral is at Margate Crematorium on Thursday February 4th at 12 Noon.

Ian and his beloved Empire Wurlitzer in 2013
Mike Candy. The Club is sorry to hear that Mike died on December 22nd at the age of 81. Mike was a life-long theatre organ enthusiast who travelled the world visiting organ equipped theatres and residences. He acquired a huge working knowledge of both organs and organists, many of whom he counted as personal friends, and was always ready to share his knowledge whether verbally or in writing. He was an enthusiastic photographer and many of his photos are the only known examples of long lost and forgotten organs and many more have illustrated publications for over 60 years.
Mike was a genial host and made his Wurlitzer available to visitors on many occasions (as well as his photograph albums to those who were interested) and he will be missed, not only for his wealth of knowledge but also as a genuinely nice person.
Mike was connected with the Compton organ at the Ritz (ABC) Edgware where he played for Saturday morning film shows, more for his own enjoyment than that of his audience, and his home in Hemel Hempstead housed the Wurlitzer from the Picture House in Leicester, one of the last surviving original Model 'F' Wurlitzers, which was kept in superb condition.

Mike Candy at the BBC Theatre Organ in the 1960s

Former House Organist at the Majestic cinema, Cradley Heath, Mel Edwards, has died at the age of 81. Mel kept the Christie playing in the Majestic after it became a Bingo Club in 1963, and was responsible for a full overhaul of the organ during 1975. Towards the end of 1989 it was decided that the organ would no longer be featured, Mel was made redundant, the console was unceremoniously boarded over and the organ grills bricked up. The Christie remains in the building, which ceased to be used for entertainment purposes in 2000 and it now stands empty. 

 Mel Edwards at the Majestic Christie 

The original 1935 Empress Ballroom Wurlitzer Console arrived back in Blackpool on October 20th, some 45 years after it was removed.
It had previously been completely gutted, just leaving the console shell, the stop keys and manuals. Fortunately, some console mechanism has been donated by Joe Marsh, from the former New Victoria Bradford Wurlitzer, and by Len Rawle, which will enable the console to remain pneumatic.
Over the next couple of years, work will be carried out to enable the console to be connected to the new organ in the Empress Ballroom. Its specification will remain unchanged and, in due course, it is hoped that the console will be sited on a new stage and on a lift, just as it was all those years ago.

The Empress console 

Shrewsbury Buttermarket Theatre
Monthly concerts will now start at 2:30pm instead of 3:00pm as of October 18th.

Former Odeon organist Roy Pearce died on September 10th at the age of 92. Roy broadcast from the Odeon Weston-super-Mare during 1941-1942 and always carried his Radio Times programmes with him in his wallet.

                Roy Pearce