|The Lancastrian Theatre Organ Trust|
The Heritage Centre Wurlitzer and Compton Organs
Wurlitzer Organ (Opus 1664) started life in the Trocadero Cinema in
Liverpool, which opened in 1922 with seating for over 1,300 patrons. In
1950 it was incorporated into the Rank Circuit and was renamed Gaumont.
organ (Style DA two manual six rank) was not installed into the cinema
until 1927, having been shipped from the factory in June of that year,
and was subsequently moved just ten years later to the new Gaumont
Cinema in Princes Park Liverpool. The building could accommodate 1,500
patrons and the organ console was centrally placed at stalls level
within a small pit area. Later in its life during Rank bingo days, it
was moved to the right hand side of the auditorium, directly below the
organ chamber. When bingo operation ceased in 1998, the instrument was
first moved to Raymond Wallbank’s shop in St Anne’s, before moving
once again to the Theatre Organ Heritage Centre in Eccles.
1997, the Davenport Cinema in Stockport closed its doors for the
last time as a cine-variety house that had been popular for stage and
screen entertainment since June 1937. The 1,750 seat house was designed
on modernist lines by architect Charles Hartley and featured a
‘Holophane’ living light scheme which allowed the auditorium to be
painted in any colour by electric light. The Davenport was a luxury
scheme incorporating a fine Compton Cinema organ.
Compton was one of a small group of organs specified by Harold
Ramsey for Union Cinemas, referred to as a ‘Compton Special’. The
Davenport instrument, although for a ‘non-circuit’ cinema comprises
pipe ranks and components that were clearly destined for installation in
other cinemas when the factory ‘A’ numbers was allocated during
manufacture. The keyboards and Tuba (Tromba) are marked up A385 planned
for the Ritz Nuneaton, the Flute and Metal Tibia for the Regal York,
Diapason from the Regal Harrogate and the Tibia polyphones for the Ritz
Warrington. The diverse range of originally planned instruments from
which the Davenport Compton was derived rather suggests that it was put
together in a foreshortened lead-time; perhaps indicating that it was
ordered after construction of the cinema had commenced.
is reported that John Compton himself was involved in the order and
installation, being acquainted with the Davenport’s owner, Esther
installed in the Davenport, the pipe ranks were displaced between two
under-stage chambers and comprise – Tibia, Tromba, Flute,
String+Celest, Diapason, and Krummet. A separate room contained the
Discus blower driven by a 4hp three-phase electric motor and the
non-operable (at time of removal) type 2 Melotone unit.
the last 18 months, the instrument, which has been in storage for over
twenty years and relocated several times, has reached its final resting
place alongside the Trust’s Wurlitzer in the TOHC. Both instruments
are operated through the ‘Uniflex’ system, and can be played
individually or together. The Compton has been augmented with three
additional Compton pipe ranks comprising Trumpet, Vox Humana and
Clarinet and although the Melotone has not been installed at the present
time, it is a longer-term aspiration to restore and install the unit at
a later date.
refurbishment, redecoration and enhancement to the Heritage Centre and
the stage area which now contains both organ consoles has well-placed
the LTOT for the next ten years of theatre organ preservation.