The Hadleigh Compton Photo Gallery
More photos to follow soon
Gerald Usher, current resident organist and restorer of the organ.
At the top of the picture you may just about be able to make out the
percussion unit, which contains, among other things, a bird whistle, a
genuine train whistle (as used by British Rail on their trains), a car
horn, an authentic chinese drum and sleigh bells.
The matching shelf on the other side of the swell shutters will eventually
have the chromatic percussion rack on it. That has a glockenspiel (which
doubles as orchestral bells) and a xylophone, which doubles as a marimba by
having an extra octave at the bottom. You can see the chromatic percussion
rack end on to the right of the console in the next photo.
The [rather low quality] photo on the right was taken a while back, and a
lot has changed since then. There is now a proper carpet down and a rather
attractive wrought iron chandelier in the middle of the room. There is also
a very effective heating system, which is a major consideration for pipe
organs which can go out of tune very easily if the temperature isn't kept
reasonably constant. To ensure constant temperature and humidity in the organ
chamber, an electric radiator and a large bucket of water have been put
This photo shows some of the interesting features of this organ, including
the "jelly-mould" lighting for the sides of the console, which we currently
believe to be of the "Rainbow" type. To the left of the console, you can see
the bottom half of the speaker for the Melotone unit.
These pipes are on the "ground floor" of the organ chamber, and require a
lower air pressure than those on the "first floor".
In the background, you can see some of the
8ft wooden pipes, which are cleverly designed to play two different notes.
The pipe sounds a note and the semitone above by opening or closing a valve.
This technique saves space in the organ chamber. Although space is not
really a consideration in the current organ chamber, it would have been in
the original organ chamber(s), where pipes would have been crammed into the
smallest available space - a practical consideration for the cinema's
architects; a pain in the neck for whoever got the gymnastic job of tuning
and performing maintenance on the organ!
The thing under the green tarpaulin (right) is, in fact not the Melotone
unit as previously stated, but a Theatrone. The original Melotone was
flooded out while at Hadleigh and so was presumably replaced with this.
However, I have no information to indicate that it has ever
worked with this organ. One possible solution to the problem of getting the Melotone
stops working is to wire up an old electronic organ, which came from Southend High
School for Boys.