The Way We Were by Colin Ella - Part 162

Time was when the mighty Wurlitzer or Compton organs added to the excitement of a visit to the cinema.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 11th September 2014, 1:37 pm
Colin Ella. Picture: Liz Mockler E0856LM
Colin Ella. Picture: Liz Mockler E0856LM

In the former Gaumont cinema in Doncaster it was thrilling to see that wonderful musical miracle rise from its hideaway, first nestling in a pool of dimmed light, and then emerging into its brilliant splendour. Then the organist’s skilful fingers drew our the instruments magnificent potential. In the days of the silent films the piano or organ accompaniment was very much a part of the show and they could produce whistles, fire bells, sirens, and all kinds of strange sounds.

The coming of sound films made these instruments largely redundant and it was then that some cinemas retained their organs to play melodies during the intermission. Amongst these giant organs the mighty American Wurlitzer stole the show but the Christies and Comptons had plenty of admirers.

All three had a gamut of orchestral devices in their storehouses and you could hear tom-toms, horns, trumpets, flutes and other instruments. We perhaps still fondly recall some of the best known organists like, Sandy Macpherson, Reginald Foort and Charles Smart.