THE THEATRE ORGAN

Robert Hope-JonesRobert Hope-Jones (1859-1914), Father of The Theatre Organ

PART TWO: BUILDERS OF THE THEATRE ORGANS

THIS PAGE IS WRITTEN IN CONJUNCTION WITH GLEN TWAMLEY (FRIENDS OF BEER WURLITZER)

-oOo-

PAGE THIRTY-THREE:
THE COMPTON THEATRE ORGAN

SURVIVING CONTINUED

John Compton Collage BlueJohn Compton, Pioneer, Innovator and Organ Builder

-oOo-

THE COMPTON ORGAN
OF THE ODEON THEATRE
WESTON SUPER MARE

-oOo-

Weston-super-Mare_Grand_Pier_June_2010The Grand Pier at 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.

Paul - WSMThe Odeon Theatre Weston Super Mare

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 faiencetogether with three thin horizontal bands of green faience and some neon lighting fixtures.

WSM001a - CopyDetailing the Three Thin Horizontal Bands of Green Faience

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.

OdeonOriginal Odeon in its Orginal Style

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.

Odeon WSM Today CollageThe Odeon Theatre Weston Super Mare Today

These photographs were provided by Paul Bland

-oOo-

Fred Fowler - last MD of Hill et al at Odeon WSM red x 2Mr. Frank Fowler seated at the Console of The Compton Theatre Organ of the Odeon Theatre Weston Super Mare

This photograph was provided by Fred Smedley

-oOo-

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.

RW at the Odeon Weston Super Mare CollageThe Compton Theatre Organ with Robert Wolfe at the Console (2007)

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.

Although The Organ is no longer played daily, as it once was, it is played at four concerts each year and is maintained by the West of England Theatre Organ Society.  

-oOo-

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

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.

I should also to thank Mr. Fred Smedly of the West of England Theatre Organ Society for his kindness in providing photographs and information about the Organ of the Odeon Weston Super Mare.

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *