The Sad Day the Organ Music Died; Rare Instrument Offered to Theatre Society

Article excerpt

Byline: Peter Collins

THE last waltz could soon be playing for a magnificent theatre organ which has graced Barry Memorial Hall theatre for more than two decades.

The organ console used to rise from beneath the stage at the hall during popular tea dances which attracted crowds from across South Wales and further afield.

But with the decreasing popularity of such dances, the organ has fallen silent.

It has not been played for four years and the trustees, who now run the hall, have written to the American TheatreOrgan Society asking it to take the organ away.

The organ was brought to the hall more than two decades ago following negotiations between Barry Town Council and the society.

Known as the Christie Theatre Organ, it is regarded as one of the most versatile instruments ever made. It is more than 50 years old and was installed at the hall in 1986, having previously occupied pride of place at the Regal Cinema in Edmonton, north London. With its four keyboards this is believed to be the second largest theatre organ in existence.

The inaugural concert featuring the organ took place on February 28, 1987.

But councillor Steffan Wiliam, chairman of the trustees, said yesterday that while the organ was a "wonderful piece of engineering", it no longer had a place at the hall, which aims to look to the future with a varied programme of attractions and events.

The organ's workings, including the pipes and electrical circuits, take up five rooms beneath the stage.

Coun Wiliam said: "We just do not have the room for it. It is no longer used, damages the floor of the stage, and simply takes up too much space which could be better used."

He said professional and amateur groups who played at the hall, including the Moscow Ballet, would put the rooms to much better use.

"We as a trust inherited the organ.

But now we put on an exciting programme of events and our everyday operational work would be much easier if the organ was removed. This is the Memorial Hall, not the Royal Albert Hall. …