The Northern Theatre Organ Trust was founded in 1964, with Frank Hare as Secretary and Treasurer, to enable it to become financially independent of both the Theatre Organ Club and The Theatre Organ Preservation Society, (an offshoot of the Club, which had purchased two organs of its own),but still retain links with the TOC.
However, the story began before that, when, in 1961, members of the TOC in the north were offered the Compton organ from the Rialto cinema in Bebbington. The purchase was finalized during July of 1961 and the organ
removed and placed in storage whilst a suitable home was found.
Ossett Town Council was approached with a view to installation in the Public Hall of its fine, Edwardian Town Hall and an agreement was reached in November of 1962.
It is interesting to note that Ossett Town Council had considered the installation of a theatre organ as long ago as 1949 when the Compton organ at the Regal cinema Dewsbury was on offer, but it turns out they settled for a grand piano instead…
The Bebbington organ arrived, in bits, at Ossett in December of 1962 but it was some eighteen months before work could begin on installation, as alterations were necessary to the basement of the hall to accommodate the organ.
It was at this time that the Trust realized that, as the organ would also be used for other musical activities, which included Civic functions, a larger and more flexible instrument was needed, thus plans were drawn up by Frank Hare and Reg Mander to re-build and enlarge the original organ by designing a specification more suitable for dual purpose use.
It wasn't until 1965 that the further eight units deemed good enough to compliment the quality of the original were located.
The original Bebbington organ consisted of: Metal Tibia, Open Flute, Cello, Vox Humana and Tuba.
To this was added: Wooden Tibia, Diapason and Clarinet from the Christie of the Lido Bolton, and Compton Stopped Flute, Viole and Viole Celeste from the Piccadilly Sparkbrook, Krummet from the Regal Handsworth and Muted Trumpet from the Savoy Exeter.
The piston relays and setter boards came from the Odeon, Swiss Cottage and Regal, St Leonards. The shutters are from the Greengates cinema Bradford and the Console from the New Victoria Cinema, London.
The New Victoria Console is unique in being the only three manual Compton Console with three sweeps of stop-keys.
The Console platform is from the Plaza, Chorley. There is also a Weber upright piano attachment.
The opening concert was performed on January 2nd 1970 by Watson Holmes and Hubert Selby, and was recorded by the BBC for the Organist Entertains.
After 45 years the organ needed a service, which was completed by the technical team during 2015 - 2016. It is the NTOT's aim to keep the organ as original as possible. Bookings are welcomed to use the organ for functions held within the Town Hall. Contact Ian Hughes on 0845 0340824 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Committee prides its self on the friendly welcome to all at its events when top line organists are presented at the unique Compton/Christie theatre organ.