History – Early Days

About the Regal/ABC Derby Compton Organ & Organists

The organ now at Pipes In The Peaks originally came from the Regal/ABC Derby in East Street.  It was a standard design of Compton comprising of 3 manuals, 6 ranks of pipes, and a melotone attachment, serial number A432.   It was billed on the cinema as ‘providing the most sensational and tonal effects ever heard in a cinema’.  In 1965, the organ was put up for sale at £200 and was bought by Mr Harry Jackson of Castle Donnington.  Sometime around this era, the non functional melotone unit was sent for repair, but was never returned.  In 1990, it was bought by David Thorp, owner of Pipes In The Peaks.

The organ was opened on 27th June 1938 by Wilfred Southworth, who had come from the Forum Cinema, Birmingham.  A few weeks after the opening, Wilfred drowned whilst on holiday.  On the 11th of July, Hensow Maw aged 21 (from the Astoria Cinema Hull) took over his place and broadcast the organ on the 9th June and 12th July 1939.  During the 1938/1939 period, Raymond Charles and other guest organists played at the Regal Derby for the occasional charity concert before legislation allowed cinemas to show films on Sundays.  In 1945, 17 year old Peter Stevens was appointed as the resident organist.

Other organists who played at the Regal/ABC Derby Compton were:- Jack Scott from the Ritz Nuneaton, real name John Scott Williamson, Arthur Tipper, Clifford Birchall, Trevor Willets, George Blackmore, Arthur Lord, and Ken McKinley.

The last organist at the Regal Derby Compton Ken McKinley.  ‘Uncle Ken’ as he was known used to play for the ABC minors Club on Saturday mornings and during the intervals on Sundays.
Auditorium of the Regal Derby showing the Compton at stage level.  The organ chambers were placed at the right hand side of the stage.