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 working instrument.

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!

Rod Paton
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 installed elsewhere.

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.......

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