Educational visit to organ for Fareham men’s shed

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MEMBERS of a men’s shed group took a trip to visit an organ and learn about its workings – before they help to install a similar one at their meeting space.

The Fareham Men’s Shed visited the Thorngate Halls in Bury Road, Gosport last week for a demonstration and tour of Gosport’s vintage Theatre Organ.

The group, which meets in a workshop at Titchfield Festival Theatre in St Margaret’s Lane, will be helping to install a similar organ at the theatre.

Organist Chris Milburn, who is managing the project, said: ‘I found an organ that needed a home, and thought that the festival theatre is a home that needs an organ.’

The organ started life in the 1930s at Southampton’s Forum cinema.

Hundreds of pipes and miles of wire have already arrived at the theatre and are piled up waiting to be fitted – in a project that will take many months.

Pete Buckles, of the Gosport and District Organ Club, gave a presentation about the organ design and explained how it all works before Chris played a selection of music to show the instrument’s capabilities – including Danny Boy for St Patrick’s Day and The Dam Busters and the Monty Python theme tunes.

Richard Bunce, chairman of The Gosport and District Organ Club, said: ‘After a tour of the organ chambers, everyone was amazed at the amount of equipment behind the scenes, and fascinated by the special effects that were once used to accompany silent movies, such as car horns, fire bells and bird whistles.’

Kevin Fraser, artistic director of the TFT, said the organ would be a great asset.

The plan is to use it for concerts, to accompany shows, and to be available for practice.

Organ concerts are also held at the Thorngate Halls, and the first one of the season will be by Paul Francis on April 23. Tickets available at the door.

The Gosport and District Organ club also meets on the second Wednesday of each month for members to play.

Richard said: ‘New members are welcome to come and try their hand and feet at playing it.’