Bid to bring rare cinema organ home

The Christie organ. Picture: Comp
The Christie organ. Picture: Comp
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IT once dazzled a generation with its distinctive sound. Now an Edinburgh community group is bidding to “bring home” a rare organ which once took pride of place in an old cinema.

Corstorphine Trust is in the process of buying the decorative-wind-keyboard that used to be in the Manse Road Astoria cinema until it closed in 1974.

Built in about 1929-1930, it is the last remaining creation of organ-builders Ingram of Edinburgh. It was later bought by enthusiast Charles Davidson, but has since fallen into disrepair.

The Corstorphine Trust has now confirmed a deal to buy the organ for £8000 – and its members are keen to restore the rare instrument and get it back into use.

It is hoped the organ could eventually be given a permanent home at Corstorphine Community and Youth Centre. However the venue itself also needs extensive renovation after a fire in October.

The estimated cost of the purchase, restoration and installation of the organ is about £50,000.

Once it is in place, the trust hopes the organ would be regularly used by residents and enthusiasts for concerts and recitals.

Trust secretary Donald Baird said the group had already paid a £4000 deposit to secure the purchase.

He said: “It was bought by an enthusiast and it’s been sitting in storage ever since. We are hoping that the public hall company will accept letting us build the organ into the hall.”

He added: “I think when you say ‘organ’, you immediately think of something enormous, not realising it’s a small cinema organ.”

The organ is made up of four ranks of pipes – the flute, trumpet, string and vox humana. It also contains a full set of drums and cymbals.

Mr Baird said: “It’s not ­playable.

“There are one or two bits that have got to be replaced completely to make it work.”

The organ is currently housed in three locations - in East Lothian, Edinburgh and St Albans – but the group hopes to bring all the elements together once the sale is ­complete.

Mr Baird said: “The trust plans to hold fundraising events and approach funding bodies as the project progresses.

“We hope it will capture the imaginations of a lot of people.

“We know there are a few organists who have itchy ­fingers already.”