A Brief History of the Rochford Compton
The Compton organ at the Essex Organ Museum was original used at the Kingsway Cinema in Hadliegh.
For more information on the Kingsway theatre visit Hadleigh Kingsway Cinema
The Kingsway organ, serial No. A337, was built by the John Compton Organ
Company in 1936 and installed in the Kingsway cinema Hadleigh for the opening on
April 27th. Organ Specification
The opening concert was performed by Peggy Weber
Jack Banbury was resident just after the war and again from 1953 to 1956.
Both Ena (Pictured right) and Celeste Baga played the Kingsway Compton, visit Ena Baga section The Compton was probably last played in public in 1960, when Celeste Baga accompanied variety there for a week.
In 1970 the Cinema was sold for redevelopment and the organ was removed. It
was reinstalled in the recreation hall of Dalys House, part of Rochford Hospital.
The first public concert was given there on 29 April 1984 by Peggy Weber and John Chapman. David Stanley was resident organist until the demolition of the Hospital started.
1996With the closing of the hospital in the late 1980s the Compton was advertised for sale. There were no takersIn 1996 the hall was earmarked for redevelopment and David Stanley and Gerald Usher removed the organ as the hospital hall was being demolished around them!
A new home was generously provided by local Farmer and Lord of the Manor Charles Tabor at Sutton Hall Farm.
This new home was the Red Red Brick Barn, a listed building and Charles Tabor had extensive work done to accommodate the organ.
The organ was fully refurbished and regular concerts started to be held.
For more information on this stage of the Compton history Click Here
2007Towards the end of 2007 many improvements were made to the organ. Wind trunking to the Tibia was rearranged to improve the tremulation. The tremulants were repositioned and rewired. The Tuba 16ft off rank was re-regulated.
In order to improve the projection of sound the solo chamber swell shutters have been reversed and the swell engines refurbished to smooth out how they open.
CONSOLEThe most noticeable improvement will be the console illuminated surround. This has been re-lamped, rewired and fitted with a modern dimmer unit, pictured right. The colours can now cycle slowly as did the original system installed with the organ when new. The dimmer unit can be connected to the stage lighting system. Look out for additional effects that respond to the mood of the music.
MELOTONEThe Melotone has been serviced and some faults repaired. The original valve amplifiers have been overhauled and additional amplification is to be fitted using further reclaimed amplifiers of the same type. The huge horn loudspeaker, originally inside the Solo chamber has been moved out and mounted on top of the chambers in the roof space. The sound now projects more freely into the hall and has a more ethereal quality.
When the loudspeaker was in the chamber the Melotone volume level was controlled by the swell shutters. Now it is outside a separate arrangement has to be adopted. An electronic volume control has been constructed and wired to the Solo swell pedal.
CHIMESIn May 2009 a set of Cathedral Chimes were obtained. They were dismantled, refurbished, cleaned and the bar mounts were rebuilt. A frame was constructed on the front of the organ to support the unit as it is very heavy with the bars mounted. The bars have been polished and coloured lighting mounted to improve the appearance.
Diapason Bass OverhaulThe Diapason Bass consists of 12 pipes mounted on a long wind chest. It was decided to move it from it's position behind the Main chest to a position previously occupied by the Tibia Bass. This will free up space for any additional pipe ranks we may obtain. The opportunity was taken to refurbish it in the workshop prior to remounting. After removal the wind chest is taken to the workshop for inspection and disassembly.
First step is the removal of the iris wind adjusters then the top board to look at the pallet valves. Then the magnets, Iris valves and wiring are removed to allow the wood chests to be cleaned and varnished.
Upon inspection the pallet valves were found to be largely OK but one was found to be split. This meant that a new diaphragm had to be cut from leather and fitted.
The Irises as usual were jammed so needed to be disassembled and cleaned. The operating rings were skimmed to allow them to move when the weight of the pipe is back on the unit. This overcomes a common failing with Compton Iris valves.
The Compound Magnets were inspected, they are in good condition so only needed cleaning and adjusting. The wind chest was cleaned and re varnished ready for the refurbished components.
Upon reassembly the repaired pallet motor was re-fitted. The Compound Magnets were re-fitted as were the Iris valves. It was decided to make a new action current cable using genuine cotton covered copper wire as was the original. It was tested for wind leaks and is ready for re-installation into the organ in its new location.
The chest was repositioned back in the chamber in the space previously occupied by the Tibia Polyphonic Bass. Careful positioning was required as there was just enough headroom. A new wind supply was laid down and the magnet cabling to connect it to the relay completed.
32' DiaphoneWork started in 2010 on the installation of a Genuine Compton 32' Diaphone. This, like the 16' Diaphone already installed came originally from the Astoria Finsbury Park Cinema. It is one of only two that exist in Britain.
When operating the Diapason is available in 4', 8', 16', and 32' pitches. It is a huge rank and has meant major rearrangement of the organ layout including removal of part of the floor of the upper chamber.
The wind chests were mounted on trestles temporarily in the chamber to make it easier to work on them. The chests were opened up and inspected. The pneumatic motors were in a bad way so they were removed for refurbishment. The chests were cleaned and wind feed manifolds constructed.
Careful measurements were made for final positioning. After rebuilding the chests were positioned on the floor of the chamber. The chest layout in the Astoria was different so wind feed holes had to be blanked and new arrangements made for wind feeds.
The pipes are huge. They are folded three times to reduce their overall height. They have to be supported when in place so support staging has been constructed to support the rack boards as the picture shows. The Pipes were mounted and fixed to the support structure.
The next job was to finalise the wind feed arrangements and manually test them. The tests showed that they all worked but some of them were well out of adjustment and tune.
With a rank this size tuning and regulation involves incremental adjustment of the reed valve in the base by adding or removing weights coupled with rotation of the tuning paddle in the top of each pipe.
It was decided that the wiring up to the relay was the best course of action for the next stage. Pat Dunham made a control and test panel to make the operation and testing of each pipe easier.
As can be seen in the picture each pipe can be activated by a switch on this panel which is mounted on the support staging. When the wiring was complete the Console had to be modified by adding a stop tab connected to a new section of the pedal Relay.
Initial tests whilst playing the organ revealed that the pipes were uneven in tone and volume so further regulation was required. This took several days but was worth it.