THE Ballarat Theatre Organ Society owns the Compton Theatre Organ installed in Her Majesty’s Theatre in Ballarat.
Built in England in 1937, it was organ Number 379 and made its first home in a picture theatre in Warrington in England.
After the coming of the Talkies (sound movies), the organ was removed from the Theatre and later purchased by a Melbourne man who brought it to Australia only to find it was impossible to install in his home. The newly formed Ballarat Theatre Organ Society then purchased the Compton and members spent ten years installing it in Her Majesty’s Theatre.
At this time the Theatre was owned by the Royal South Street Society and known as The Memorial Theatre. The opening concert on the 12th June 1982 was attended by theatre organ lovers from all over Australia and since then, thousands of people have been entertained by what has been described as the most complex musical instrument ever invented. With 677 pipes and over 200 keys the Compton can sound like an orchestra and has many special sounds that were used when accompanying the silent movies. Several young Ballarat organists have won international competitions and as a result have travelled overseas to play at important venues in England and America. Many world famous organists have played this instrument which has a renowned quality of sound. The installation of a cover over the orchestra pit has complied with Occupational Health and Safety regulations but has limited the use of the Compton as removal of the pit cover is a considerable operation taking time and manpower. The Compton is often referred to as Ballarat’s hidden secret. Concert details in My Community