The Compton Organ began life in 1934. It was built as a 3 manual / 5 rank instrument for the Astoria Cinema, Purley and was opened on 2nd April by Robin Richmond. In 1973 the organ was removed from Purley and stored in Kings Lynn until it was purchased by the East Kilbride Organ Society in 1975. The organ was installed in the Ballerup Hall, East Kilbride soon after but was on the move once again in 1977, when it was replaced by a larger instrument. From East Kilbride, the organ was installed in the home of Tom Forsyth at Carluke where it remained until 1982, when it was purchased by Chris Booth and installed in a former barn in Spalding. Chris later sold the Compton, which was then destined to be installed in a restaurant. Sadly, this plan never came to fruition and the organ was once again put up for sale. The Compton, now enlarged to 6 ranks was purchased by the Sheffield Theatre Organ Enthusiasts to form the basis for a replacement instrument at the City School, Sheffield, where their previous Compton had been destroyed by fire.
The Compton was enlarged to 14 ranks and rebuilt at the City School, Sheffield, being opened there on 18th June 1993 by William Davies and Kevin Grunill. Many well-known organists played the instrument at Sheffield and the concerts were very popular. Sadly in 2009 the future of the organ was thrown into doubt when it was announced that the school hall was to be demolished as part of a major re-scheme of the school and space to include the Compton could not be accommodated in the new building.
The Compton was offered to the Penistone Cinema Organ Trust as a second instrument to the 4/18 Compton that the Trust had installed at the Penistone Paramount. It had long been an ambition of PCOT to have their own ‘headquarters’, where a Cinema Organ could be installed and the offer of the Compton came at the right time. The Compton was removed from the City School in March 2010 and brought to the empty warehouse unit that was to become the Astoria Centre.
Lying in thousands of pieces around the new unit, each component was slowly dismantled and its condition assessed. The restoration was carried out by volunteers, very few having any previous knowledge about the workings of the Cinema Organ. Luckily, the project leader was restoration specialist - Kevin Grunill - and soon the volunteers were shown how to restore the items to ‘as new’ condition, using traditional materials and methods. The cost of the materials, together with the Uniflex Organ Control System, was supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
During the restoration of the Compton, it was decided to dispense with some of the added ranks of pipes which were included upon installation at Sheffield. Some of the previously added ranks were from church organs, so these ranks of pipes were replaced with similar ranks from genuine Cinema Organs and the organ was enlarged even further to create the instrument that we see and hear today.