Although primarily a Cinema Organ preservation group, we also have a number of Electronic Organs in the Collection. The Electronic Organ Collection shows the development from the Cinema Pipe Organ to the modern Home Electronic Organ and includes a variety of instruments from different periods of development. Please contact us prior to your visit if you are wanting to see or hear a specific instrument in the collection. Due to space limitations, it is not possible to display all the collection at any one time.
Allen MDS 317-EX
This is the only Allen MDS 317-EX in the United Kingdom. Developed from the popular MDS lll, the 317-EX is a true full console digital Cinema Organ. The large console features two stop rails, together with a full complement of thumb and toe pistons. Built for a private residence in Derbyshire, we purchased the organ in 2006 and installed it in St Andrews Church in Penistone, where it was used for our weekly series of Thursday Lunchtime Organ Concerts until 2018, when this series was moved to the Astoria Centre. We are hoping to install the Allen Organ at the Astoria Centre at some point in the future.
The Conn 651 was built in the 1970s and would have cost around the same price as a terrace house at this time. Considered to be the ultimate electronic theatre organ when built, our example has a fascinating history. It was this actual Conn 651 that Reginald Dixon played at the famous organ concert at the Royal Albert Hall as well as ‘on-tour’. There is a small silver plaque attached to the console with an engraving of Reginald Dixon’s signature to commemorate this. The history of this instrument doesn’t end there, as it was subsequently owned by Nigel Ogden - Presenter of the long-running BBC Radio Two show “The Organist Entertains” for over 25 years. Nigel very kindly donated the organ to the Astoria Centre and featured it in concert here in 2019.
The Conn 652 at the Astoria Centre was built around 1982. Similar to its predecessor (Conn 651), the cost of the 652 would have been around the same price as a small house. The Conn 652 has many more features than the 651, including a tuned percussion section, as well as numerous Couplers, which broadens the console specification and the flexibility of the instrument.
The ever-popular Hammond C3 was the largest-selling instrument in the UK from 1950 - 1970. Most large variety clubs and Working Men’s Clubs in the North had a Hammond C3. The sound of the Hammond C3, connected to the famous ‘Leslie’ speaker, was synonymous in many genres of music, ranging from jazz, rock and pop. Even today, the Hammond C3 is a sought-after instrument for pop groups and recording studios alike. The Hammond C3 here at the Astoria Centre was purchased new in the 1950s by local musician - Gordon Wood. It was generously bequeathed to the collection following the death of Gordon’s widow in 2015. Although the organ hadn’t been played for over 15 years, it was serviced and made operable again by one of our volunteers. An interesting note is that the original protective covering on the pedalboard is still in situ and this instrument has the rare turntable located in the bench, which was an novel feature, enabling the performer to play along with pre-recorded rhythm recordings.
There are a number of Technics Organs in the collection, spanning over 20 years of production. These include the portable Technics C700 from the 198’s, as well as two full console instruments: the Technics FN-3 and FA-1 from the 1990s. These instruments are owned by Kevin Grunill and are on loan to the Astoria Centre.
The collection is also home to the last Yamaha Electone production model distributed in the UK - The Yamaha EL900. This state-of-the-art instrument had many highly advanced features and was a popular instrument with organists on the ‘Organ Club’ circuit.