The Albert Hall
Commonwealth Avenue, Canberra




From 2001 OHTA Conference Handbook:

Although Canberra's Compton Organ was a relative late-comer to the Theatre organ scene, it has, like most other theatre pipe organs, had a long and interesting history.

Originally installed in March 1933 for the opening of the Gaumont Palace (later re-named the Odeon Theatre) in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, UK, the organ had 602 pipes in eight ranks: namely Diapason, Tibia Clausa, Stopped Flute, Violin, Violin Celeste, Krummet, Vox Humana and Tuba. Thus, in the parlance of theatre organists, it was a 3C/8, meaning it had three manuals (the top one being a coupler) with eight pipe ranks. In addition, four sets of tonal percussions were provided; namely Vibraphone, Glockenspiel, Xylophone and Chimes, plus the usual set of drums, cymbals and other special effects.

The opening performance on the organ was played by the acclaimed theatre organist of the day, Frederick Bayco. It remained in continuous use in the theatre until 1968 when it was removed for shipping to Australia. Surprisingly, the Cheltenham organ was the first Compton theatre pipe organ to be 'exported' trom the UK. It was bought by a commercial concern which owned the Dendy Theatre in Brighton, Melboume.

The Dendy already had a theatre pipe organ, a Wurlitzer (ex Capital Theatre, Melboume), owned by the Victorian Division of TOSA and this was proving to be very popular. The Compton was then earmarked for installation in a restaurant planned as part of a redevelopment of the Dendy site. A change in plans caused the Compton to be offered for sale in 1977 and a Canberra consortium successfully negotiated the purchase. Shortly after it was offered to TOSA ACT and in October 1988 the Compton fell into the enthusiastic hands of the TOSA restoration team.

The poor condition of the organ presented the restoration team with a daunting task, but after thousands of man hours spent releathering, rewiring, mending, manufacturing, modifying and repainting, and over $40,000 expenditure, the organ was heard for the first time in its new home on Thursday, 7th November 1985. The inaugural concert on 17th August 1986 was performed by Tony Fenelon, a well renowned Melboume Theatre Organist and TOSA ACT's patron.

The restoration work did not stop there, the solo manual and the accompaniment second touch were not operational at the time of inauguration but these have now been completed by the team. Operation of the organ, in both its original installation and in Canberra, has taken its toll on the old switching stacks. Arcing of the electrical contacts has resulted in erosion and deterioration so replacement and upgrading using the latest technology will result in enhancing the organ's musical performance and, hopefully attract a wider cross section of the community, particularly the younger generation who, we hope, will experience the thrill of Theatre Organ.


Canberra's Compton Theatre Pipe Organ Specification


Great Manual
English Horn (TC)
Krummet (TC)
Tuba
Contra Viol
Vox Humana (TC)
English Horn
Krummet
Tuba
Diapason
Viol/Viol Celeste
Vox Humana8
Tibia
Tibia
Tibia

Tibia
Twelfth (Tibia)

Piccolo (Tibia)
Tierce (Tibia)

Tuba
Diapason
Viol/Viol Celeste
Vox Humana4
Bourdon
Flute
Flute
Flautino (Flute)
Tierce (Flute)

Glockenspiel
Vibraphone/Chrysoglott
Xylophone

Couplers
Great Sub Octave
Unison Off
Great Super Octave
Solo to Great

Accompaniment Manual
English Horn
Krummet
Tuba
Diapason
Violin
Violin Celeste
Vox Humana
Tibia
Tibia
Twelfth (Tibia)

Tuba
Diapason
Violin
Violin Celeste
Vox Humana
Flute
Flute
Flautino (Flute)
Vibraphone/Chrysoglott

Couplers
Acc Super Octave

Traps
Snare Drum
Cymbal
Sleigh Bells
Tambouirine
Castanets
Tom-Tom
Chiinese Block

Accompaniment 2nd Touch
English Horn
Tuba
Diapason
Tibia
Piccolo (Tibia)
Triangle
Brush Cymbal
Glockenspiel
Solo To Acc

16
16
16
16
16
8
8
8
8
8
8
16
8
5-1/3
4
2-2/3
2-2/3
1-3/5
4
4
4
4
16
8
4
2
1-3/5











8
8
8
8
8
8
8
8
4
2-2/3
4
4
4
4
4
8
4
2















8
8
8
8
4




 
Solo Manual
English Horn
Krummet
Tuba
Diapason
Violin
Vox Humana
Tibia
Tibia
Twelfth (Tibia)

Piccolo (Tibia)
Tierce (Tibia)

Glockenspiel
Xylophone

Couplers
Solo Sub Octave
Unison Off
Solo Super Octave
Vibraphone/Chrysoglott
Chimes

Pedal
Tuba
Tibia
Bourdon
English Horn
Tuba
Diapason
Tibia
Violoncello
Flute
Tibia

Couplers
Acc to Pedal
Great to Pedal
Solo to Pedal

Traps
Cymbal Tap
Bass Drum Tap F
Bass Drum Tap P
Cymbal Crash
Drum Roll
Triangle
Traps to 2nd Touch (switch)

Tremulants
Tibia
Tuba
Krummet/Vox
Diap/Flute/Viol/Celeste

Pistons
6 Double Touch to Great
6 Double Touch to Accomp
6 Single Touch to Solo
6 Single Touch to General
3 Single Touch ToPedal

Effects (Operated by Toe Studs)
Birds, Firebell, Doorbell,
Auto Horn, Cymbal Roll,
Siren, Snare Drum/Grand
Crash, Engine, Steamboat.

Other Controls
Rotor Switch (Vibraharp)
Thunder
Solo and Main Swell Pedals
Crescendo Pedal










8
8
8
8
8
8
8
4
2-2/3
2
1-3/5











16
16
16
8
8
8
8
8
8
4

































































Photos: Trevor Bunning 2006