Ipswich Theatre Organ Club

About the Society

The Ipswich Theatre Organ Club exists to provide its members with an opportunity to meet and share their interest in organ music and to organise concerts and events of interest to theatre organ music fans.

History of the ITOC Christie organ

The Christie organ was built by Hill, Norman and Beard and installed in the Century Cinema Clacton on Sea (later Essoldo) in 1936. It was purchased and removed by Society members following a final concert in 1967.
After several abortive attempts to interest local authorities in providing a home, an agreement was reached with the Church at Castle Hill. The organ was opened in November 1971 by Len Rawle, John Mann (who was the last to play it at Clacton) and veteran organist Sydney Gustard. In the following thirty-five years, regular concerts have been presented in a happy working relationship with successive Ministers and Elders of the United Reformed Church.
An organ loft had been provided when the church was built In 1957. The Clacton organ had to be substantially rebuilt to fit into the new Chambers that had been constructed in partnership with the church and in particular with Michael Saunders, who remains the church organist to this day.
Sadly, on purely practical grounds, the massive illuminated surround could not be retained. Eventually the chance occurred to acquire the decorative console ends formerly in use at the Adelphi Slough. These can be applied for concert presentation and removed and replaced by a simple oak screen when used for church services.
Early on in the project it was decided to purchase a ‘Diaphone’ to extend the Diapason rank to sixteen-foot pitch. These pipes, by Wurlitzer, were from the Leicester Square Theatre. Space was also provided in the stopkey layout for a ‘Celeste’ rank. This was provided from early Compton work from Stowmarket Parish Church.
Other typical Christie features were the provision of ‘synthetic’ stops and at Clacton they were Saxophone and Orchestral Oboe. The provision of a solid state relay and piston system enabled these stopkeys to control pipe ranks and to date the Saxophone stopkeys control Clarinet pipes, another early Compton rank, (possibly from the Trocodero Southport). An early Hope-Jones Orchestral Oboe awaits installation and will bring the number of pipe ranks to ten.

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