In March 2021 Damon Cox & Nigel Laflin descended on Folkestone, on the invitation of Rickys son Brian, to survey the organ with a view to helping find a new home for the instrument. Following the survey Damon (possibly in a moment of madness!?) agreed to take ownership of the organ. This meant removal, restoration and re-installation in another suitable venue.
To call the instrument a Standaart is actually a bit of a stretch. The analysis of the organ shows that’s in-fact most of the organ is Compton. To put numbers on it there are 159 Standaart, 243 Compton and 73 Henry Jones & Son pipes in the organ – that totals just 475. (Click for a full analysis of the organ in March 2021)
Unlike the major brands (Wurlitzer, Compton etc) there isn’t an abundance of Standaart spares lying around and so some sensible substitutions will be made to keep it as original (or as close too) as possible.
As the project evolves, a balance between historical and musical approaches has to be met.
The Standaart originally had a wooden flute, so a decision was taken to replace the Compton Stopped Flute (from the Playhouse Folkestone A26) with a wooden Christie (HN&B) Flute.
The strings were a combination of a ViolinCello from the Rendezvous Cambridge (latter Pleasure Gardens Folkestone) and the other rank consisting partly from the original Standaart and from the Regal Handsworth. Theses have been substituted with a matched pair of Christie Violins from the Elephant & Castle theatre. Don’t worry the original Standaart strings have been kept. They are in pretty poor condition and in the future it’s hoped to have them repaired and the rank taken at least to 4ft.
The Original Standaart Vox was replaced with a Compton one (From the Piccadilly Sparkbrook). Standaart copied Wurlitzer for thier Voxes originally so the Compton Vox has now been replaced with a Wurlitzer one from somewhere in the US.
The Nederlandse Orgel Federatie (NOF) have very kindly sourced for the project a genuine two manual Standaart console. This came from a 2/4 built in 1929 and was moved after the war to the Colosseum in Rotterdam. It was saved from there Jan Slingerland who installed it in the Larenkamp Rotterdam. It was taken out of there in 2012 and stored.
Given the fact the organ wasn’t one complete original instrument, I decided to try and make it more authentic in its tonal resources. So I kept the two Savoy Standaart Ranks, and re-homed the rest of the pipework while I looked for suitable ranks.
With space a premium, I decided to keep the bass electric as it had been all those years at the Harts, but with sounds produced by modern Digital Samples.
With some luck one of the first big parts I found was the Main chest from the Commodore Hammersmith. I also acquired a pair of Christie Violins (from the Elephant and Castle Theatre), a Hill Norman & Beard Hohl Flute (from the Duke Street Baptist Church, Kingston-Upon-Thames), a Wurlitzer Vox Hamana (imported in from the USA in the 80s), and an excellent, if not usual, Trumpet rank from the only cinema organ the Italian firm Barbieri (Regent Leamington Spa) imported to the UK.
The Nederlandse Orgel Federatie (NOF) kindly donated a genuine surplus Standaart console which came from the Stadsschouwburg Tilburg as well as a set of shutters and chimes from the same organ. Carl Heslop was commissioned to make new stop tabs copying the unique hand engraved style used on the VARA Studio
With the restoration of the chests, regulators etc. complete, the organ was playable for the first time
I thought it was okay to start with, but the strings and flute weren’t quite what I was looking for. The final addition was quite something, by way of the Commodore Hammersmith Tuba, This meant completely rebuilding half the organ to fit it in on a Wurlitzer Chest. This work combined with swapping the Christie flute and strings ranks for Wurlitzer ones (Strings from the West end Birmingham, flute uknown) has resulted in the instrument you hear today.