A Potted History
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Copyright Â© 2011 Michael Mason
Harworth Organ Enthusiasts The First Forty Years The Founding of the Society The Harworth Organ Enthusiasts, as it became known, was started as the brainchild, and the dream of Stan Morris in 1971. It had always been Stan’s wish through life to become either a Vicar or a Theatre Organist. As things turned out, he didn’t achieve either, but he did of course sow the seeds for the organ society that we know today. Stan was employed in the Methane Extraction House at the Colliery and it was through this job that he got to speak with many of the gentlemen who would help to form the H.O.E. All employed at the Colliery, so it was easy to keep in contact with them. People such as Stuart Warrior, the Mechanical Engineer at the pit, Arthur Peat, who worked in the Time Office, Ray Stocks in the Power House, and Ken Mason in the Prop Repair Shop. It was important that Mr Warrior was brought on board, for at that time, the committee at the Harworth Miners Institute and Welfare building, where any proposed concerts would eventually take place, was made up of six members of staff from the colliery, and six members of the National Union of Mineworkers. Luckily for us, the committee at the ‘Stute’ could see the potential of such a ‘Section’ of the club, and they granted permission for Stan to organise a committee and start to present concerts in the upstairs Concert Room at the Stute.
The First Concert The very first concert was held on the 28th December, 1971, and featured Hubert Selby and his wife Jill (soprano), Hubert was nationally known as a top presenter for the Hammond organ
company, so was ideally suited to play the RT3. This concert was attended by over 100 people. This was the perfect location for an up and coming group of enthusiasts to meet and enjoy organ concerts, all played on the ‘Hammond RT3’ installed there. The original committee, as far as my records show, consisted of Mr S. Warrior, Chairman, Mr. S Morris, General and Concert Secretary, Mr A. Peat, Treasurer, plus Mr. R. Stocks and Mr. K. Mason as Committee members. As with many new projects, it was a case of ‘From small Acorns, mighty Oaks doth grow’, and this was the case upstairs at the Stute, for as news of these early concerts started to filter out to the general public, more and more people started to attend the concerts, to enjoy the organ music and to also enjoy a little tipple or two, as the concert room was equipped with a bar. Everyone benefited, the organ ‘nuts’ as they became known, enjoyed the music, and the ‘Stute’ committee enjoyed the profits from beer sales, everyone was happy. Before long, as our society grew, many of the Star organists from across the British Isles were invited to come along to play the concerts, names such as John Mann. All the way from Brighton, And the late Ernest Broadbent from of all places, ‘The Blackpool Tower’, what a coup for a small pit village like Harworth to feature such a famous person.
The photos above and on the previous page, show other people who became committee members, namely Tom Edwards, who owned a Television shop in Hexthorpe, so his electrical knowledge would become invaluable a couple of years later when we purchased the ‘Christie’. Reg Simpkins who became Vice President and acknowledged himself as a ‘General Dogs Body’, willing to get stuck into anything that was required of him. If you look at the first photo, you will note a lady on the right hand side, her name was Grace Rycroft, who would travel from York to attend concerts, and when we eventually started the Membership Scheme, she was the first to join, and insisted ever after to have No.1 as her number. This membership scheme was started quite early in our existence, and the revenue from it went to cover the cost of producing the newsletter that Stan started writing, this newsletter became an advertising vehicle for the society and started to be sent further and further afield, so swelling the numbers at concerts. I am pleased to say that we are still producing this Newsletter, although now it has become bimonthly to save on costs. Later on we started producing Diary Cards, for members and friends to know in advance who was coming to entertain them, again, this has continued over the years. The photograph at the top of this page shows another gathering of members around the organ for Ernest Broadbent’s visit, and the Lady pictured this time is Joan Owen of Tickhill, a well known soprano
locally, who had obviously been booked to entertain the crowds that evening. As well as his interest in organ music, and while he never made it into priesthood, Stan Morris did have an influence on Church events, spreading to many countries overseas. After the ‘Christie’ was installed it became his passion to get the visiting organist to play a piece, or pieces, of Church music during their concert, with Stan recording it on his trusty ‘Reel to Reel’ recorder, he would then transfer the items to cassette tape, and post them around the globe to members of a religious music club that he belonged to. I know for a fact that some of our Christie recorded music ended up as far away as China. I once called at Stan’s home on Bawtry Road to find him in his ‘Studio’, and was amazed to see just how many cassette recordings he had in there. His ‘Studio’ had at one time been the Outhouse/Wash House, but he had furnished it with his recording equipment, a desk and chair, and goodness knows how many racks to house his tapes. To picture it, it would be a room about 8ft square, and Stan had lined the walls on three sides with these racks, and they were completely full, such was his love of all things musical.
The Christie arrives in Harworth The concerts in the Institute continued over the next couple of years until we eventually moved next door into the Welfare Hall, again with the blessing of the Institute Committee, but this of course did not happen overnight, as you can well imagine, if you look at the pictures on the next couple of pages, quite a bit of work went into restoring and preparing the Christie for installation. To start with the committee had decided to approach Arnold Loxam of Radio Leeds fame, to ask if he would consider becoming President of the society, and he was only too pleased to accept. This probably came about because of a programme he had recorded for Radio Leeds called ‘Sit Down and Sing’, the crew came along to the Institute one evening and made the recording, to be relayed over the airways in Leeds and district, but after it had gone out, Arnold was hauled over the coals
by Radio Sheffield, who created a stink about it, as Arnold had ‘poached’ the recording off their patch, so really nothing has changed over the past 40 years, there were petty people about then also. The point about mentioning Arnold at this point, is to say that he had an influence in buying the Christie. When Stan got to know that the Christie was available, Arnold was only too pleased to travel up to Durham with a party to assess its potential, which wasn’t easy as the console of the Christie had indeed become part of the stage construction. With quite a bit of difficulty Arnold was able to get a tune out of it, the end product being that he thought, and the committee agreed, that it did indeed have potential. So then the process of bidding for it started. Our Committee met with the Parent Committee at the Institute, and after explaining what our ambitions were, they agreed to put aside £1000, a lot of money 40 years ago, to purchase the Christie for £250, and the other £750 to be there to install it. Over the years, as we held our Dinner Dance, it became a tradition to donate a cheque for £150 to the Institute, so really we have paid back the purchase price of the organ. It was very early understood that to take on such a project would need professional help and advice, and it was at this point that Ted Aistrup was approached and appointed as Organ Builder. This fitted exactly, for as many people know, the ‘Christie’ theatre organs were designed and produced by Hill, Norman, and Beard, Church Organ manufacturers, and Ted had served his apprenticeship with this company. Couldn’t be better, could it.
The Dismantling in Durham To start with the Christie had to be removed from the cinema in Durham and transported down here to its new home. This was done, I believe, over two weekends, with the time scale being critical as the cinema was being turned over to a Bingo Hall, (surprise, surprise). A team travelled up to Durham on the first Saturday evening to start work overnight, after the film had finished, and I always remember my Brother Ken telling me that they were in the orchestra stalls getting changed into working gear, when they suddenly heard a
woman’s voice shout out, ‘Here, there’s some blokes down there in’t stalls with no clothes on’, they were of course the cleaners. The team were ably assisted by gentlemen from the colliery who gave of their time willingly, and the time consuming work of removing the Christie began. Probably the most poignant memory for me, although I couldn’t join the team up there due to Olive being very close to giving birth, was the fact that my Brother Ken made a double trip to Durham in one Saturday night. No mean feat by anyones standards, to travel up there driving a lorry, load it and drive back to Harworth, unload, and then repeat the process all in one night, to me is just a remarkable indication of how dedicated the whole team were. To make a total driving distance in one night must equate to around 400 miles, plus the loading and unloading.
Its Here That’s it, at long last its here in Harworth, and what a better picture to illustrate the fact than Vice President and General Dogs Body Reg Simpkins, Organ Builder Ted Aistrup, and Ken Mason, Committee Man and Lorry Driver, pictured with just a very small sample of pipes in front of the Headgear at the Colliery.
Now for the Hard Work When we got it all back to Harworth we needed somewhere safe and available to store everything, and again through the good offices of Stuart Warrior and the Colliery Manager at the time, the old Wages
Office, situated within the Main Office building was made available, itâ€™s a good job it was a good size, just look at the photo below.
Flutes, Diapason, Tibia, Strings, Big Base Drum, Cymbals, you want it, we got it. As well as having somewhere to store all the pipework etc. we also had to preserve some space within the room to actually start work on refurbishing everything. All aspects of the organ needed to be checked over before it was installed in the Welfare Hall, remembering that it had sat in the cinema for many years just decaying. Things like the leather on the Regulators needed replacing, to an organ builder this is known as â€˜Toshâ€™ and is a very thin and pliable leather, and a job for the expert, everything else such as the reeds in every pipe needed checking. Many, many man hours were dedicated to the refurbishment of the organ, hours that no-one, other than those involved would ever see, and the only reward that anyone asked for, was the satisfaction of a job well done. This went on for quite some time until the organ was ready for its next move, and that was of course to the Hall, where it has remained ever since. Ironically, by the time you read this, it will have spent more of its life with us than it did in its original and designated home
in the cinema. After starting life in 1934 in the Regal Cinema in Durham, we removed it in 1972 here to Harworth. I don’t think it is common knowledge, but Stan Morris modelled our society originally on the S.T.O.E. The Sheffield Theatre Organ Enthusiasts, and for many years our two clubs ran alongside each other, with Sheffield holding their concerts on the Third Sunday in the Month, and us on the Fourth, avoiding a clash of interests. Sadly the Sheffield Compton has recently been removed and the society has closed down, but thankfully we are still going strong. I think, probably, our strength lies in the fact that we are able to hold dances on the Saturday night before a concert on the Sunday, and of course a lot of revenue comes from these dances to keep us afloat. Something that Sheffield didn’t have the opportunity of. So started the job of installing the Christie in the Welfare Hall, again, ably assisted by a Joiner, Blacksmith, and Bricklayer from the Colliery, the Cloakroom was divided into two by building a breeze block wall, and then re-cladding it with the Cedar we had removed, then a corner of the organ chamber was split off to form the relay room, and the rebuilding could then start in earnest. If memory serves me correctly, we cut out the section of the back wall where the Shutters are now, this enabled us to get better access for passing the pipework etc. through, then, when everything was in, the shutters were installed. Stan’s original idea was to follow Sheffield’s example and have the organ chambers at the rear of the stage, but most people opposed that idea, and it has proved since how right they were. The organ would have been lost at the back of the stage and would have needed amplification to get any sort of benefit from it. As well as the actual pipework that needed installing, lets not forget the tremendous amount of wiring and soldering that needed doing at both the console end and the chamber end. Wire that is as thin as cotton, and is indeed cotton covered. To make a solder possible, this cotton covering had to be removed, together with the coating of shellac that was also on the copper interior. In the early days we suffered quite a few problems with what we refer to as ‘Dry Joints’,
in other words, a joint that hadnâ€™t soldered properly because it hadnâ€™t been cleaned enough. The cables that connect the console to the chamber run along the drive side of the Hall, concealed behind the beam that carries the roof. If you could see inside this cover, you would find a cable, approx. 3â€? across, and containing 1200 individual strands of wire in it, also there are another three cables, originally BT cable, which contain 75 strands in each, and all these 1425 plus strands needed cleaning ready for soldering, multiply that by two to take into account both ends, a mammoth job in itself, without taking pity on the poor devil who got the job. Needless to say, it was shared out. The other point about the cabling was that once the ends were cleaned, you then needed to identify which individual strand was which and what it was soldered to, this was done by having a worker at each end and a bell or a buzzer, that indicated which strand was which when you created a circuit, once proved, then it was time for the solder. A Theatre Organ of course needs not only Electricity, transformed down to around 15volts , it also needs Wind, and this is provided by a 4ft Discus Blower, this is housed in the green shed to the right of the Hall entrance. Again, our thanks to the joiners shop at the pit for this facility. In this shed is not only the Discus Blower, but originally it also housed the generator for the electrics, both running off the same motor, but as the years went by the generator started giving us problems, and we obtained a new Transformer to run off mains electric, this is housed within the organ chamber. Having mentioned the sorting of the cables etc. you needed the console on stage before you could do any soldering, so the pictures on the next page show exactly that, the console being there in its crudest condition. You will note that it is not white as now, it is in its original Gold colour, just as it was in the cinema.
Up a bit, down a bit, left a bit, right a bit, but they did have fun
Ted Aistrup, Arthur Peat, Tom Edwards, and Reg Simpkins take a rest after hauling the console on stage. So the laborious job of connecting everything up carried on. What I havenâ€™t mentioned is the fact that after the work of soldering each end of the main cable was complete, the job still remained to connect each of the control Tabs and the cable from each of the 400 plus pipes into the Relays.
With fingers crossed that everything was alright, and after quite some months, the moment came when the wind could be turned on for the first time, and the first sounds could be extracted from the Christie. It was very gratifying to find that with very few exceptions, the old girl behaved very well. Obviously she sounded awful, tuning wise, as the pipes hadn’t been touched since she was covered over in the cinema, but with Ted’s expertise he soon had her sounding quite sweet. While it isn’t a problem, ever since the organ was installed, and it is the same with all theatre organs, we are fully aware that a change in the weather can affect the tuning quite drastically, a hot or cold spell can play havoc and necessitate a visit from our organ builder for a retune. Over the years, some of the committee have been able to pick up enough knowledge to rectify any small ciphers or bits of tuning that need doing. Sometimes it is a process of elimination, and sometimes it is knowledge gained by simply watching a master at work. So she is installed and working fine, the dates for the Grand Opening has been discussed, so the only thing to do now is to ‘Tart’ the old girl up with a coat of paint. While it would have been great to keep her in her Gold livery, it was thought impractical from a maintenance point of view, so the decision was taken to follow the trend of many other Theatre Organs, and paint her white with gold relief. A colour that she has remained ever since, although the last time she was painted, we toned the finish down to a creamier and warmer look, which is much better from a lighting point of view also. The other point to consider was the fact that, because of the size, the organ would have to be stored simply by pushing her to the side of the stage and be covered up until the next use. This point also had to be taken into consideration when we wired her up, we needed enough spare cable on stage to do this.
The Great Day Arrives So the overalls have been put away, shoes have been polished, and all is set to welcome the Christie to her new home in the village of Harworth, on the 30th September, 1973. The show was opened by Keith Phillipson, the North of England Representative of the Theatre Organ Club, and popular Compere of the Sunday concerts at the Odeon and Gaumont Theatres in Manchester. He in turn welcomed the capacity audience (Probably more than the fire certificate allowed if truth be known) and introduced the guests of Honour, Mr. C. Murphy, the Colliery manager, and Mr. H.M. Spanton, the Area Director for the North Nottinghamshire Area of the National Coal Board. After speeches and messages of congratulation, it was on with the show, and the first recital to be heard in public of our beloved Christie, in the very capable hands of the old Organ Grinder himself, Robin Richmond. Robin played the first half and taking into account the organs original roots, played ‘Blaydon Races’ at the start of his programme. For the second half we welcomed a young man who would eventually become our Vice President, the ever popular David Hamilton. David’s signature tune was ‘On a wonderful day like toda’’ and we couldn’t have had a better way to introduce the Christie to the masses. Much work and preparation had been put into this day, none more so than by the latest recruit to the committee, Tom Edward’s wife Eve. Eve was employed at the Tickhill Nurseries and it was through her good offices, that she was able to arrange for a multitude of plants and shrubs to be available to decorate the stage that day, and they did look gorgeous. No mean feat as they all needed transporting here during the morning, and returning after the concert. This facility went on for quite a number of years, but eventually ceased when Eve retired. Look closely at the pictures on the next two pages and you will be able to see some of Eve’s creation.
The ‘Christie’ on Grand Opening day, note the original stool. David Hamilton christened this a ‘commode’, but this had nothing to do with us replacing it, it was more the fact that people said they couldn’t see what the organists feet were doing on the pedals, so it was changed to more of a Wurlitzer type stool. Also note from the pictures, at that time the Christie was a two manual, six rank instrument. More about changes and additions later.
The stage setting for the Opening Concert day 30th September, 1973.
Doesnâ€™t it look lovely, pity its not a colour picture.
In the ensuing years many changes have taken place, to the way we operate, to the Hall itself, and indeed to committee personnel. For a start, as we became more successful, and with the backing of the ‘Stute’ committee, we bought and had installed, full stage lighting. This was controlled, first of all by Ray Stocks, perched up at the side of the stage on the raised platform there, and later, as Ray’s health started to fail, by myself, and I was eventually joined by Harry Cheadle. Only recently by our timescale, has the lighting been transferred to a new purposely created lighting box at the rear of the hall. This is much better as the operator can now see what he is creating, rather than having a side view of it. The initial cost of this lighting was £3000 but it was money well spent. As I talk to many visiting organists, either in the dressing rooms or after a show, it is amazing how many tell me they love coming to Harworth, simply because we do things properly, and don’t just rely on a 100 watt bulb dangling above the organ. Many committee personnel have either joined or left the committee since we started on our journey, and it needs to be recorded that 99.9% of these people were absolutely committed to our cause, and gave their all while in office, for which we thank them wholeheartedly. Probably the people most missed are members of the original, or founding committee. People like Stan Morris, Stuart Warrior, Arthur Peat, Ray Stocks, Tom Edwards, and for me personally my brother Ken. As many of you know, Ken died suddenly in January 1977 and his passing shocked not only his immediate family, but also all the membership of the society. Ken was always known to be at the door on concert days to welcome people, and he was always there at the end to wish them a safe journey home, and always ready to share a smile and a joke with anyone. Around the time we lost Ken, Stan’s health started to fail and reluctantly he decided he had to step aside, his place was taken in the interim by another Morris, Geoff, the local Chemist. He carried on the duties of Secretary for a few months until the night before the AGM on the Tuesday, I received a phone call from him, to say that he couldn’t make the meeting and in fact was packing the job in.
I contacted Stuart, who asked me if I could do a report, which I did, and the very next night I was promoted from Concert Secretary to General Secretary. A job I have done for some 34 years now, and have derived great pleasure from, most of the time. Having settled into the job of Secretary, and working closely with Arthur Peat during, and between committee meetings, it became a source of comedy when Arthur gave his report. He was such a ‘stickler’ for accuracy that for months we had an ‘odd halfpenny’ shown in our accounts, and even though we would say, ‘For goodness sake Arthur, chuck that ha’penny away’ he never would, all he said was, it’s the societies and there it stays. Eventually, as will happen to all of us, Stan, Arthur, Ray, Reg, Tom, and Stuart, joined Ken in that great organ club in Heaven, but we do have and will keep, many happy memories of these people, for without them all, the Harworth Organ Enthusiasts would most certainly not have been the success that it has been over the last 40 years.
The Unforgettable Crew From left Dick Coward, Cliff Broadbent, Tom Edwards, Ray Stocks, Stuart Warrior, David Hamilton, Stan Morris, Reg Simpkins, Arthur Peat, and Ken Mason.
While I mention and include the photo on the previous page of the ‘Unforgettable Crew’, it needs to be recorded that in most cases, the men were not the only people involved, their wives, like it or not, inevitably got volunteered also. Again, without their help and encouragement, we may never have been able to enjoy a ‘cuppa and a chat’ during concert intervals, we may never have been able to enjoy a buffet at dances. All down to the great camaraderie that existed throughout the H.O.E. This togetherness has carried on right up to the present day, whether it be wives, girlfriends, partners, or whatever, the lure of being associated with the H.O.E. has quite simply carried on, just like in the early days.
Extensions and Improvements. When we obtained the organ from Durham, it was in its original form, and consisted of two manuals and six ranks of pipes. Not too long after the opening, Tom Edwards got a bee in his bonnet as to how to improve things, and so it was that he added a third manual, not a genuine Christie but an electronic organ one, coupled to this were the other two manuals and split into 5 couplers, in other words you could put down all 5 stops, and with one hand you could virtually play 5 octaves. This arrangement stayed for quite a while until one day Ted turned up with a genuine Christie manual, so this was fitted. Over a period of time other stops were added, like the Diaphone which Alec Kilner and myself travelled down to Aylesbury Town Hall to collect, and the Xylophone which I collected from Ron Curtis in Bolton. I did ask him which organ it had belonged to, but he wouldn’t tell me. One day I shall have to look for the number and trace it back. The Trumpet and Salicional came as a shared rank from a Church in Sheffield, and to fit this we added an auxiliary regulator, running at 4lb pressure instead of the 11lb pressure as with the rest of the organ. The Salicional being very quiet, was changed for a Kinura rank.
Without a doubt the most significant change that anyone would ever notice, was the placing of the Christie on its lift. Before my time on the committee, this was bought and collected from a cinema in London, again, I do believe with Ken driving the lorry there and back. The story of the lift is a very poignant and sentimental story for me. When it arrived in Harworth, it went into storage in a shed behind the Joiners Shop at the pit, and over a period of time became virtually forgotten about, that was until one day the shop foreman decided that we would have a clear out in the shed, and it was so lucky that I was involved with this action, or the lift might have been put in the skip for scrap. I well remember the lad I was working with, suddenly, right at the back of the shed, exclaimed,’ what the B----y H--- is all this stuff. Having seen it before many moons ago, I recognised it as the lift and that was the start of it being fitted. As I said, there is a lot of sentimentality associated with the lift for me. Having lost Ken in the January, I knew it was always his dream to see the Christie climb from below stage, and he would have moved Heaven and Earth to see it happen. I obviously reported my find at the next meeting, and then it was to the Stute committee for approval. I remember Mr Nev. Hawkins, one of the main stays at the Stute, standing in the Hall and saying, ‘Well, you seem to know what you are doing, so you better get on with it’
So started another chapter. Throughout the late summer and early autumn. The committee worked in the old Stables at the pit, with only a hand lamp and an old ‘Wolf’ drill to help them, to alter the lift to suit our needs. I must confess that we had the opportunity to wheel parts down to the fitting shop and use the power hacksaw and the Radial drill for the heavier bits. So the morning after the November concert in 1977, the work started on unsoldering all those wires, re-routing them under the stage, and then when the stage opening was cut out, the lift mechanism fitted, and the organ placed on it, the work of re-coupling the wires began. All this work was undertaken in the space of three weeks, as it was our Christmas Concert, featuring our President Arnold Loxam in mid
December. All the committee were sworn to secrecy as to what we were up to, and we didn’t even tell Arnold until he arrived ready for his concert. His look of surprise and the elation at being the very first organist to ascend from below stage level, was a picture to behold, it’s a pity that no-one got a photo. The main surprise came for everyone attending that evenings concert, for we started as usual with Stuart opening the concert, the curtains opened, the organ was playing but no organ was visible, that was until Arnold pressed the button and up she came out of the stage for the first time. What a night, what a sight, what memories, it really was a ‘hairs standing on your neck’ moment. A moment that can never be repeated, nor would you want to try. It wasn’t done that evening, but some of you may remember me borrowing a ‘Cap Lamp’ from the colliery for one of Arnolds following visits, and he rose from below stage wearing the Lamp and a Pit Helmet. For me the whole lift project was done in Ken’s memory and will remain so for as long as I live. If you get the chance to look at the console close up, you will see a brass tablet on the right hand side, this was given to the society by his wife Doreen and his children, Graham and Elaine, in memory of Ken. Right up to this day Doreen is still involved with the society all these years after, looking after the kitchen and providing the ‘cuppa’s at both dances and concerts. Over the years other improvements have taken place, like the Phantom Piano, that’s another journey I made, this time only to Spencers Auction Rooms in Retford, towing a horse box behind me to fit the piano into. The idea of buying a pianola instead of a normal piano is that with a pianola, the primary action is already fitted, saving a lot of time and effort. Our good friend Ray Booth did the original fitting of this to the organ, with help from Ted Aistrup along the way, and I was intrigued to find out that after the electrics had been done and the vacuum motor fitted, the keys were activated to go up and down by placing small weights underneath them. I bet you wondered how it worked. Only a couple of years ago it was decided to make the top, or Coupler manual into a proper manual, with its own speaking voices, so began the work of altering things yet again. It needed another row of tabs fitting above the originals, so everything was raised a couple of inches, so now, instead of an
accompaniment and a solo manuals, we have an accompaniment, choir, and solo manuals, the top solo manual having it own 25 speaking voices, plus the Piano tabs. This now makes our organ, while still as original as Hill, Norman, and Beard intended it to be, a 3 manual, 10 rank organ. Also added over the years has been a Crescendo Pedal alongside the Swell Pedal. An Accompaniment to Pedal coupler, to beef up the pedal section, and an Octave Coupler on the Accompaniment manual, taking everything up an octave when used. The original couplers on the top manual were retained, as when used, they give the organist the opportunity to create a big sound instantly without changing registrations.
Additional Activities Over the years, other activities have taken place, one notable one being our visit to Holland, taking two coaches full of ‘Organ Nuts’. When I think about it, I still cannot believe that I organised this trip, having never been abroad in my entire life, and here I was, taking responsibility for some 100 people. In the end, everything worked out perfectly. We journeyed on the overnight ferry from Hull to Rotterdam, and once landed, we headed straight for the Circus Theatre at Scheveningen, (probably not spelt correctly). Then during the afternoon we visited the ‘Van Rousen Nurseries’, before heading to our hotel. This was a conference centre owned by the Shell Oil Company, not far from the airport, a beautiful complex with every amenity you could wish for, including a pool and Jacuzzi. Believe it or not, this also had an organ installed in the ‘rotunda’, so we were able to produce our own entertainment during the evening. One notable thing about this organ was the fact that the keyboards were the wrong way round, the accompaniment was the top one, and the solo the bottom one. Next morning, and after a great continental breakfast, we headed into Amsterdam, and the coach drivers went and negotiated a trip on a canal boat. One memory I have of this trip was that the young lady guide told us, (and taking into account the number of cycles there are in Amsterdam), that ‘Every so often they dredge the canals and fish out all the discarded rubbish and bicycles. And they call it, wait for
it, ‘Recycling’. In the afternoon we visited the ‘Tuchinski Theatre’ in Amsterdam. What a grand building this was, as you entered you stepped on to a carpet which had apparently been woven in India, and then shipped over to Holland, and it was gorgeous. I always remember chatting with the coach drivers on the Monday morning as we left for home, one said to the other, ‘If we keep it to about 100, we shall make it in nice time for the ferry’. After pausing for breath, I realised they meant Kilometres and not Miles per hour. Thank goodness. Other trips were organised over the years to organ location in this country, and I well remember one we made to Coleshill in Birmingham, accompanied by Andrew Nix in short trousers, that’s how long it is since. We have had many outings over the years to visit other installations, and I am sure everyone has enjoyed themselves on these trips.
Recordings Over the years we have produced a couple of long play records with Arnold Loxam and David Hamilton. The David Hamilton one being his last ever recording, as sadly, he died soon after in America. The same would also apply to the last CD we had done with Geoff Stephenson. For many years Geoff was one of my favourite organists here at Harworth, for he had the ability to make our organ sound like a giant 20 plus ranker, whether it be for Theatre music or Church music, so it had been my ambition to get him on record at the Christie, and this finally happened only around three years ago, and again, it was his last ever recording, as he died suddenly soon after on Boxing Day. Another recording that was made on the Christie was for the BBC. Omnibus programme, and brought back to Harworth again, Robin Richmond, together with Charles McNichol from Newark. Also featured during the interviews were Stuart, Tom, and Ken. It was planned that I would be interviewed, had it not been for the fact that I was asked, as a member of the Institute, to take Robin Richmond across and sign him in, so he could get his favourite drop
of Gin. When I came back they had run out of film, so that was my tough luck, and my chance of ‘stardom’ was gone with it. I have often thought about contacting the BBC Archive Section, to ask if they still have a copy and could I have one please. Probably as we come up to celebrating our 40th Anniversary, it is something I ought to do soon. I well remember, as the organ was playing, shots were shown of the pit headgear and the spoil heaps beyond. I do believe the other two organs that were featured, were the ones at Ware in Hertfordshire, and the one at Beer. Stan Morris was a great friend of Herbert Shrimpton, the gentleman who had dealings with this organ. So there we have it, my memories of the first forty years of existence of the Harworth Organ Enthusiasts. Later to be known in the last couple of years as the Harworth ‘Christie’ Organ Enthusiasts. This happened as a result of the Institute building closing and eventually burning down, this resulted in the Institute Company ceasing to exist, so severing our connections with it, so a new name was adopted by adding the word ‘Christie’. I have to say that since this happened, we are in a much more stable and ‘level playing field’ situation, and we hope, of course, that this will carry on for many more years to come, the only thing that we ask is that you members continue to support us, as you have done over the last 40 years.
Harworth ‘Christie’ Organ Enthusiasts Please explore your society by looking at the New Website. You can find us at: www.harworthchristie.org.uk Any constructive comments for inclusion on the website are always welcome.
WHY NOT TELL YOUR FRIENDS ABOUT US, AND ENCOURAGE THEM TO COME ALONG AND ENJOY OUR EVENTS. The Bircotes and Harworth Community Hall Whitehouse Road Bircotes Doncaster DN11 8EF
This Booklet Is Dedicated to the memory of Everyone who has given of their time freely, and helped the Harworth Organ Enthusiasts. Without their inspiration and dedication in the early years, the Society could never have become the success that it is today. To all these people, we owe a massive Thank you. Our thanks also go to the many hundreds of Members who have supported us over the years.