THE THEATRE ORGAN
PART TWO: BUILDERS OF THE THEATRE ORGANS
THIS PAGE IS WRITTEN IN CONJUNCTION WITH GLEN TWAMLEY (FRIENDS OF BEER WURLITZER)
THE COMPTON THEATRE ORGAN
THE COMPTON ORGAN
OF THE ODEON THEATRE
WESTON SUPER MARE
Oscar Deutsch, the founder of Odeon Cinemas/Theatres, commissioned the architect, Thomas Cecil Howitt, to design four new cinemas at Clacton-on-Sea, Bridgewater, Warley and Weston Super Mare during the early 1930s. Each of his designs were of a squat main building with a square tower and a slab roof surrounded by twelve small round columns. The Odeon Theatre Weston Super Mare opened to the public in May 1935 with the film, Brewster’s Millions, with Jack Buchanan.
This photograph was provided by Paul Bland
The cinema’s decoration was in Art Deco style. The facade was covered with cream coloured tiles, or faience, together with three thin horizontal bands of green faience and some neon lighting fixtures.
The auditorium was plain without ornate grille coverings and with concealed lighting in troughs across the ceiling and in recesses around the Proscenium. Seating for about 1,800 was available in the stalls and circle.
In December 1973, the cinema was converted into Three Screens with the erstwhile circle forming the main screen and with two smaller screens being formed by the division of the stalls. A fourth screen was later formed in the front stall area in 1991.
In 1986, the Odeon Theatre Weston Super Mare was granted Grade II Listed status.
These photographs were provided by Paul Bland
This photograph was provided by Fred Smedley
Oscar Deutsch (1893-1941) had only nine Theatre Organs installed in his cinemas, which included the one at Weston Super Mare. The Compton Theatre Organ installed here had 3-manuals and 6-ranks and included a Solo Cello and was opened by Alfred Richards. The Organ’s Console Case was illuminated and in the Cascade Style. The Organ chambers are on the roof of the building and sound escapes into the auditorium through decorative plaster coves above the Proscenium.
Lower Left: this photograph was provided by Fred Smedley
The Organ remains in place today and may be seen from the former circle. It is the only Compton Theatre Organ still installed in an Odeon Theatre outside London. In addition, it is only one of two working Theatre Organs still present and performing in their original installations, and which are still in a commercially operating cinema. The other such cinema is the Odeon Theatre Leicester Square.
I would like to thank Mr. Ian McIver for providing information and photographs. I would also like to thank Mr. Stephen Dutfield for allowing the reproduction of some photographs from The Compton List here and for the information provided there.
Very special thanks are given to Mr. Paul Bland for providing photographs, musical interludes and information and without whom this piece would not have been possible.