From: Alan Lorimer, Oct. 1997
Our memory of the instrument begins at the Ritz
Theatre Stockport. The organ was installed late, and owing to wartime
and the early closure of the theatre, it was hardly ever played. When
the theatre closed, the organ was removed and fell to ownership of a
company called Whirlygig, who also owned the Fabian Wurlitzer. The two
organs were stored together in a chicken shed near Newcastle England.
Whirligig went bust, and the organs were sold. Ian McNaught bought the
organ (against all odds) and the organ was hidden in garages, lofts and
Sumerlee Museum until a home was found for it. Luck was with us,
because we had already been talking to the local Council in Clydebank
(my home town) about the installation of an Organ in the town hall.
Again against all the odds, funding was found from the council to
undertake the building work, and the organ was set to be installed in
the town hall. All parts of the organ have been restored: all leather
and where necessary woodwork has been replaced. The orginal relays
were incomplete. (In fact we had bits of the Fabian Wurlitzer instead
- I wonder if they got bits of ours?) In anycase there was no room for
Wurlitzer relays, so the latest Devtronix has gone in. The console an
illuminated surround have been fully rewired and releathered. Although
the illuminations have gone electronic too. At the time of writing,
only the bottom 12 notes of the Diapason have been played from the
keyboards, through the computer with the chest winded by a vacuum
cleaner connected in line with a tiny church organ blower! The date of
the opening concert is set at 21st may next year.
The organ has not yet played, but has been fully restored, and with
the application of wind over the next 6 weeks will result in a fully
Status nearly OK.
From: Rod Paton, April 2002
We did not wish to damage the original pneumatic sweeps as there was
a buyer in mind (Steve Keenan) and without the baseboard, they would
have been rather an unconnected pile of components. Ian Macnaught had
acquired the Paramount Newcastle baseboard which was lying unused at
Arthur Russel's Studio in Malvern and we built up the new stop sweeps
using Syndynes (from the East Kilbride instrument) on the Newcastle
baseboard which was the same size as the original Ritz, Stockport one
and hence just slotted in during a weekend changeover! The pneumatic
stop sweeps at Clydebank had been re-leathered and rewired only 4 years
previously and it would have been a shame to have had to remove the
pneumatic motors to re-use the baseboard and possibly render the
pneumatics assembly less re-useable.
As David Lowe has already pointed out, the Newcastle organ at Turners
had a spare baseboard as the sweeps there had been totally rebuilt on
a new (as far as I know) baseboard. I do not know how it came to be
in Malvern though!
It was not possible to add all the extra stops for the five (not four!)
ranks we have added at Clydebank on to the original pneumatic sweeps
as they numbered approximately 50 extra to include extra couplers etc
needed on an instrument for today's requirements. And yes, we also have
the beloved(?) harmonic couplers now at Clydebank which were put to good
use by Robert Wolfe last weekend who gave a superb concert there and
showed that 13 ranks in the Clydebank acoustic is a wonderful sound!
Scottish Cinema Organ Trust technical team.
From: Russ Ashworth, December 2006
the Scottish Theatre Organ Trust's
Wurlitzer in the Clydebank Town Hall was flooded when the chambers under
the stage were flooded after heavy rain in early November. The pipes,
chests blower etc were removed to a workshop and a police cell for safe
keeping. They have found long cracks in the floor and it looks like it
may be sewage rather than just rain water. It is unlikely that it will
be able to be reinstalled before the summer and may even have to be
moved to another location.
The problem is that there is a concert schedule that has to be taken
care of starting with a Christmas Concert. With little spare money and
little time the problem was finding a replacement.
As it happened the console is fitted with a Rickman/Uniflex MIDI system
which is used to drive a Roland digital piano because they couldn't get
a Grand up the stairs, and it is also used to record the performances.
Knowing that the best (and cheapest) alternative to not having a real
Theatre Pipe Organ is a Miditzer, I suggested that they download it onto
someone's laptop and give it a whirl. They ended up with the
Miditzer260SP which is a 3 man. I have received the following e-mails
from Alan Lorimer who is their computer guy. The technical bits have
been edited out. It will be interesting to hear how the first concert goes.
Miditzer might not be as good as the real thing but sometimes you don't
have the real thing.
Alan Lorimer wrote:
There are mixed views on the chamber. As we speak the organ is completely
removed and flooding remains an on-going issue (every few days at the
moment). There is clearly a problem with the drains that is new since we
have never experienced flooding like this before.
The mix of views is that Ian seems to be of the mind that the problem
cannot be fixed and that we should seek a new home for the organ.
The organ will be repaired, and our estimate is the summer time before it could play
completely in Clydebank. Ian seems to be of the mind that it should be
I have spent a lot of time talking to council officials and the provost
(scottish mayor). They too are up in arms about this - it is jeopardising
the use of the hall for all users. The dressing rooms are out of service and
the main electrical plant for the stage is in the basement as is the main
switchboard for the whole building. The responsibility lies with Scottish
Water - this is the organisation responisble for the drainage system
- it is important that all parties work to put pressure on them to carry out
whatever civil engineering is necessary to resolve this problem. That
is my approach, until that work is done I think the organ should stay out of
danger. The tanking/waterproofing that was done was intended to protect the organ
against minor flooding from burst pipes or local water problems, not
backflow from the drains. I am confident that this problem can be solved. I think Ian is keen
to move and is not looking for any positives in the present situation.
As an aside we were comparing thoughts on the stage lighting controller
which is in the basement. This was under water again on Thursday
night, and was in use again on Saturday! It had been drowned time after time in the
last 20 years and still works. Fizzes a bit sometimes. Now if I actually
asked you to design a 3 phase stage lighting controller that worked underwater.......