Astoria cinema's organ

Photo:Astoria cinema 1939

Astoria cinema 1939

Photo:Guy Hindell, photographed at the Ritz, Southend

Guy Hindell, photographed at the Ritz, Southend

Photo from Wayne Ivany's collection

Photo:Cyril Busfield at the Astoria organ

Cyril Busfield at the Astoria organ

Photo from Wayne Ivany's collection

Photo:Raye Miller at the Astoria organ

Raye Miller at the Astoria organ

Photo from Wayne Ivany's collection

Photo:Robin Richmond, organist at the Astoria Purley 1934/5 but seen here at the Granada (ABC) organ in Hove c.1935

Robin Richmond, organist at the Astoria Purley 1934/5 but seen here at the Granada (ABC) organ in Hove c.1935

Installed in 1933

By Wayne Ivany

The organ of the Astoria cinema, in Gloucester Place, Brighton, was installed in time for the opening on 21 December 1933. It was built by the John Compton Organ Company of London NW10, which was responsible for more organs in cinemas in the UK than any other builder, including Wurlitzer.

Eight units of pipes

Numbered A190 in the factory records, it had 8 units of pipes plus percussions and effects played from a three manual (keyboard) console. The third manual was a ‘coupler’, having no independent stops of its own but ‘borrowing’ from the others at a variety of pitches.

It changed colour

The console was encased in an illuminated surround of the ‘Cascade’ type, which would change colour automatically or could be controlled by the organist to give the colour of his choice.

Mounted on a lift

The console was mounted on a lift, which originally raised the console through the stage, but this was later moved to the more traditional position in the centre of the orchestra pit.

Various organists

The first organist was T Guy Hindell, who played on the opening night and remained as resident organist until July 1935. He was followed by Cyril J Busfield from July 1935 to February 1937. Local organist Billy Underhill arrived in March of 1937. He remained the longest serving organist until 1946 when Miss Raye Miller took over, broadcasting the organ that year.

Taken over by ABC

By 1946 the cinema had been taken over by ABC and their Musical Director Harold Coombs also broadcast the organ on 6 July 1946. The ABC team visited the organ from 1956 until the arrival of ‘TODD AO’ in 1958 when the cinema was remodelled and the organ removed and broken up for use in other organs.

Leslie Appleton

Another local man who deputised at the Astoria was Leslie Appleton.

Guy Hindell

T Guy Hindell had a promising career ahead of him; he had been an organ scholar at Jesus College Oxford and from Brighton had moved to the Astoria Southend. Unfortunately he suffered from tuberculosis and spent much of 1938 in hospital. He died on 1 July 1939.

More information

For more information about the history of the Astoria cinema click here.

This page was added on 09/02/2010.

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