THE COMPTON ORGAN
THE ORGAN
THE ORGAN was built by the John Compton Organ Co. of Acton, north-west London, and consists of 17 ranks (sets of pipes) controlled from five manuals (keyboards) and a pedalboard. Among its many voices is Compton's patented electrostatic device, the Melotone. This creates a modulating effect that has been described as "haunting" and "ethereal". There are four sets of Melotone speakers; two placed in front of the shutters (originally, sited in the front stalls) and two in the ceiling of the rear circle. The organ also had a grand piano attached but this was later removed. The glass surround is unique and was designed to blend with the theatre's original décor.

The ranks of pipes are: Salicional, Stopped Flute, Geigen, Gamba, Violin, Strings (two ranks), Diaphonic Diapason, Posaune, Tuba, Trumpet, Tibia, Vox Humana, Clarinet, French Horn, Concert Flute, Krumet. There is also an array of percussions, i.e. xylophone, glockenspiel, marimba, cathedral chimes, harp, snare drum, bass drum, and the usual silent picture effects (e.g. train, birds). All of these pipes, percussions, etc. are accommodated in two chambers situated beneath the stage (which is 50 feet wide). For the full stop list, click here.

In the mid-1950s, during John Howlett's tenure as Organist, S. J. Wright (Wurlitzer's UK branch) cleaned and overhauled the organ and made some alterations. These included the addition of the Chimes and metal Harp from the Christie organ in the Regal, Marble Arch, and swapping the Tibia with one from the Wurlitzer in the Gaumont, Watford. In the 1960s, when Gerald Shaw was organist, more changes were made, i.e. the Krumet rank was exchanged with the one at the New Victoria Cinema and that instrument's Marimba was also installed at the Odeon. Shaw also had the Wurlitzer Tibia replaced by a Compton one from the Gaumont, Finchley.

The organ's console is situated on a lift that's positioned in the centre of the orchestra pit (located in front of the stage). This lift was fitted with a turntable that allowed the console to be rotated. Although the mechanism still exists, it is now disconnected, having proved unreliable and troublesome. The lift system for the orchestra pit and the organ console was built by Jensen & Co.
Odeon Cinema, Leicester Square (east side), London WC2H 7JY [map]