Portsmouth Music Scene

The Portsmouth Music Scene
“The Organists Entertained”

Philip Dore F R C O

dore11-8-1924news dore16-10-1925news

11-8-1924 --- 16-10-1925

dore18-9-1926news dore26-11-1926news

18-9-1926 ---- 26-11-1926

dore10-12-1926news dore9-4-1927news

10-12-1926 ---- 9-4-1927

dore6-3-1929news dore1-10-1930news

6-3-1929 --- 1-10-1930













May 24th Reports of the death of Reginald Renison in the 'hands of the Japanese', he is a well known Portsmouth pianist and organist.
November 19th Harold Ramsey and his Electric Organ at the Coliseum.


November 10th at the Savoy Ballroom, Harry Parry and his Sextet with Jean Bradbury, plus Allan Young and his Organtones every evening.
December 4th At the Savoy, Harry Parry and his Sextet with Jean Bradbury plus Allan Young and his Organtones.
December 8th At the Savoy Allan Young and his famous Organtones, plus Alan Green and his Savoy Band.


Jan 1 At the Savoy, Allan Green and his Savoy band plus Allan Young and his Organtones.
February 4th At the Copnor Methodist Church, a performance by BBC organist Reginald Foort.
March 27th At the Embassy, Johnny Ashley and the with Billy Forrest's radio band also Charles Cowie and the Marksmen and a £2,000 Hammond Organ.
May 14th At the Savoy ballroom, Robin Richmond and his Organ Grinders Swing.
August 5th BBC Organist Sandy McPherson plays at Trinity Methodist Church Southsea.
Jan Ralfini and his 14 piece Orchestra with Jerry Allen at the Wonder Hammond Organ with his Rumba Band, begin a residency on the South Parade Pier.
November 10th At the Savoy Ballroom, Harry Farmer and his Electric Organ and his Electrons play for dancing.


April 15th Good Friday At the South Parade Pier, The George Mitchell Choir and Jan Ralfini and his 18 piece Orchestra with Kenneth Stroud at the Hammond Organ appear.
June 3rd Robin Richmond and his Organ Grinders Swing play at the Savoy Ballroom.


Feb 10 At the Embassy ballroom, good music with the new Orchestra and Hammond Organ.
Feb 13 All this week on South Parade Pier, 3 bands in two ballrooms, including Jan Ralfini and his full 14 piece Orchestra plus vocalists and Eric Easton on the Hammond Organ, play for dancing .
At the Embassy Ballroom dancing to the Tyler trio with Hammond Organ.
Feb 17 Dancing to Charles Tyler' Orchestra plus Hammond Organ at the Embassy Ballroom.
March 2nd Charles Smitton, famous BBC organist is featured each evening at the Savoy ballroom at the new super Hammond Organ.
.July 9th Daily in the Pier Cafe, organist Cherry Wainer at the Amazing Solovox.
April 8 Dancing nightly at the South Parade Pier to Wally Fry and his New Collegians and Eric Easton at his £3,000 Wonder Organ.
August 5th Saturday, In the South Parade Pier Cafe, Gordon Banner playing the new Multitune Wonder Hammond Organ.


March 24th Saturday, Gordon Banner plays the Wonder Hammond Organ in the South Parade Pier Cafe.
May 2nd Gordon Banner and his £3,000 wonder Hammond Organ playing on South Parade Pier.
December 7th The Ray Ellington Quartet play at the South Parade Pier, also Gordon Banner at the organ.
December 31st At the Savoy Ballroom, Benny Freedman's Band are supported by broadcasting organist Charles Smitten.


February 29th Jimmy Leach and his Organolians play at the South Parade Pier.
April 11th Good Friday. Commencing Good Friday and Easter Sunday, Gordon Banner at the wonder organ in the Palm Court at South Parade Pier.
Oct 3 Gordon Banner, the organist from South Parade Pier, plays at the Petersfield Town Hall.
November 7th Jimmy Leach and his Organolian Quartet play at the Savoy Ballroom.


March 13 Dancing to Jimmy Leach and his Organolians at South Parade Pier.
May 16th Saturday, The Portsmouth and District Organist’s Association hold their annual social and are entertained by Mrs. S. Matthews, Misses P Hinds and R Aumond, and Messers L Gibbs, S Coates, and T Wren.
June 10th At the Connaught Drill Hall, Portsmouth, Al Parkman's American Rhythm Orchestra and Gordon Banner and his Ballroom Organ, play for dancing.
September 20th At the Festival Bar in Southsea, a special lunchtime and evening appearance of Miss Elice Granadoff at the organ.
September 27th Farewell appearance of Gordon Banner and his Wonder Organ at South Parade Pier.
At the Festival Bar, in the Savoy Buildings, in Southsea, regular lunchtime and evening appearances of BBC organist Miss Edice Granados at the organ.
November 7th Organist Elise Granados, resident in the Festival bar Lounge each evening and Saturday and Sunday lunchtimes, broadcasts of BBC Light Programme.
December 19th Elise Granados plays the Hammond Organ at the Festival Bar, carols and seasonal music nightly.


March 11th Portsmouth newly re-built Guildhall is to have an £8,000 Electric Organ.
April 6th Festival Bar organist, Elise Granados broadcasts on BBC Light programme.
April 16th Good Friday The Portsmouth Glee Club perform Handel's Messiah at the London Road Baptist Church. Among the singers was Reginald Wassell, and organist was Stanley Matthews.
May 18th Festival Bar organist, Elise Granados broadcasts on BBC Light programme.
September 10th Organist Gordon Banner plays for more than 200 Paulsgrove Women's Conservatives.
September 15th A Compton pipe organ costing £15,750 is to be installed in the re-built Portsmouth Guildhall.
October 8th Organist Gordon Banner is to return to the South Parade Pier next summer and also for performances at the Rock Gardens Pavilion.
October 27th BBC Radio organist Sandy Macpherson plays 'The Great Organ' and the St Cecelia Singers perform at the Dickens Fair.
November 3rd Gordon Banner play 'the wonder organ' on South Parade Pier.
November 29th Ad in the Portsmouth Evening News; Gordon banner and the atomic band with his £3,600 Ballroom Organ seeking work from 14, Grove Road Southsea.


January 31st Fred Emney and Robin Richmond with Organ appear at the Theatre Royal.
March 26th Saturday, Drayton Methodist Choral Society perform Handel's Messiah at Copnor Methodist Church, with Stanley Matthews organist and Reginald Wassell baritone.
March 28th Gordon Banner and his Ballroom Organ play at the Parish Hall Portchester.
April 2nd At the Temple of Spiritualism in Victoria Road South, a musical retreat with a combination of Hammond organ, human voice and recordings.
April 4th The Gosport Municipal Orchestra play at the South Parade Pier, plus Gordon Banner on the Wonder Organ plays in the Cafe.
May 2nd BBC Organist Elise Granados playing every evening at the Festival Lounge Bar, below the Savoy Ballroom, with new 'mine host' Bob Wells from the Royal Albion, Margate.
May 22nd On South Parade Pier, Frederick Curzon from the BBC plays the Wonder Organ.
May 30th At the Theatre Royal, Georgia Brown, Don Peters, organist Cherry Wainer and Wilson, Kepple and Betty appear.
June 14th Ad in the Evening News;- Portsdown Inn, enjoy a drink in a musical atmosphere. Peggy on the Electric Organ.
November 23rd Invitation talent contest, plus Eric Copsey at the Wonder Organ in the Palm Court on South Parade Pier.


March 30th Reginald Porter-Brown is the new resident at the £3,000 wonder organ on South Parade Pier.
March 31st Gordon Banner plays his Wonder Organ at the Savoy Ballroom Tea Dance.
April 2nd Gordon Banner plays his Wonder Organ at the Savoy Ballroom Tea Dance.
April 21st Wally Fry and his Collegians are joined by Reg Bannistra and his Orchestra with Reginald Porter-Brown at the Wonder Organ on South Parade Pier.
April 22nd Reginald Porter-Brown plays the New Wonder Organ at South Parade Pier.
April 25th A Musician's Ball, the first of three to be held this year, is held at the South Parade Pier includes Harold Dunn and his Orchestra, Southern Countries Orchestra, Eric Bernard and his Broadway Orchestra, Wally Fry and his Collegians, The Masterpieces Dance Orchestra, Wally Gresham and his Band, Raymond Franks and his Music, with Bernard Glover at the Hammond Organ to support Portsmouth Branch Musicians Union Benevolent Funds.
May 19th In the Savoy Ballroom Restaurant twice daily, Gordon Banner at his Wonder Organ.
May 23rd Savoy organist Gordon Banner is charged at Petersfield with stealing four trees, case dismissed.
November 21st At The Festival Bar, Southsea, Organ solos by Eric Maddison, Thursday and Saturdays 1pm to 2-30pm.
December 15th The Portsmouth Glee club present Jean Grayston, Max Jaffa, Reginald Kilbey, Jack Byfield, with Stanley Matthews at the organ, and the full chorus of the Portsmouth Glee Club, at the Wesley Central Hall.


April 19th Isobel Bailie Reginald Wasell bass, Stanley Matthews organ, and the full chorus of the Milton Glee Club, give a concert at the Wesley Central Hall, Fratton Road.
The Welwyn Garden City Male Voice Choir sing, and Reginald Porter-Brown plays the Wonder Organ on South Parade Pier.
May 18th The Reginald Porter-Brown is featured on the Wonder Organ at the South Parade Pier.
May 31st The Festival Bar now open with Sam Ross at the Wonder Hammond Organ.
June 8th Eric Maddison at the Electric Organ plays at the Savoy Ballroom with Benny Freeman and his Orchestra.
October 31st A new £7,000 organ at All Saints Church is dedicated.
December 14th Portsmouth Glee Club Christmas Concert at the Wesley Central Hall, Fratton Road with soloists Max Jaffa, Jack Byfield and Reginald Kilby with Stanley Mathews organist.


January 13th Senorita Elise Granados return to the Festival Bar playing the £3,000 Hammond Organ.
February 5th Organ Recital at All Saints Church by Winchester Cathedral organist Alwyn Surplice.
April 4th Good Friday The Portsmouth Glee Club perform a concert at the Wesley Central Hall, with soloists Isobel Baillie soprano, Reginald Wassell baritone and Stanley Mathews organ.
At the South Parade Pier, concert by pianist Roy Stevens, singer Lucille Graham, Carl Rosa Opera baritone Evan Thomas with Donald Thorne at the Wonder Organ.
April 12th Organist Bernard Glover play in the LDB Cafeteria in Commercial Road.
April 24th Organist Bernard glover play in the LDB Cafeteria in Commercial Road.
The new four manual organ at the Guildhall will cost upward of £15,000.
April 27th Donald Thorne plays at the Wonder Organ on South Parade Pier.
May 24th Davy Jones Orchestra and Organist Donald Thorne play on South Parade Pier.
Bernard Glover plays the organ at the Savoy Ballroom.


February 20th Billy Duncan on his Organ begins a residency at the Seahorse Bars at Clarence Pier in the Neptune Bar.
March 27th Good Friday. Donald Thorne plays the Wonder Organ on South Parade Pier.
June 8th Guildhall is re-opened by the Queen after the rebuild with a sell-out Inaugural concert with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, guest conductor Sir Arthur Bliss and George Thalben-Ball at the organ.
June 11 At the Guildhall, a concert by the Portsmouth Schools Festival Choir of 400 with Reginald Wassell, Portsmouth Technical High School music master, at the piano. The Milton Glee Club sing two songs with Reginald Wassell at the organ.
October 14th A ruling has been made that no bop or jive is to be played on the Guildhall organ. "Nutcraker or Hallelujah but not Tutti Frutti" says Councillor Asquith Leeson.
November 16th Billy Duncan plays nightly on the new super electronic organ at the Seahorse Bars Clarence Pier.
November 19th At the Richmond Hotel, Lake Road, Sid Harris "The Guv" plays the magnificent new Compton organ every night from tonight.


Gordon Banner


Eric Copsey

billy duncan - southsea bbc organist & hammond organx

Billy Duncan


Back in the days of the silent movies, it may have been silent up on the screen, but not in the cinema itself. When you didn't have the sound of enthusiastic patrons whooping and yelling during the action scenes, or loudly stamping their feet and whistling because the projector had broken down, you had pianists thumping away on the ivories to accompany the films.
These old pianists were marvellous. They had a suitable tune to depict every mood. For instance, just imagine poor old Pearl White. There she is up on the silver screen, sitting b the fire and bemoan ing her lot - her dear daddy has passed away and the hens won't lay, the cows won't milk, the evil landlord Sir Jasper is about to arrive for ¢ the rent money, her sweetheart Handsome Jack is away at sea, and worse still the community tax has just arrived through the letterbox! This is the cue for the cinema pianist to provide a plaintive rendition of Hearts And Flowers.
When the wicked Sir Jasper enters to Regin: have his way with Pearl, the pianist plays the Villain Theme. Pearl resists his advances, of course, so he promptly takes her out and ties her hand and foot on to the nearest railway line, knowing that the 8.15 from Waterloo is due any moment. This prompts the piano player to launch into a thrilling Overture To William Tell. Will Handsome Jack arrive in time to rescue Pearl? Of course he does, flattening Sir Jasper with one blow, he unties Pearl just as the train speeds past. Then, as Pearl and Jack walk off hand in hand into the sunset, the pianist thumps out a rousing chorus of My Hero. Wonderful! When talking films came along, it was bad news for cinema pianists, but it was good news for the cinema organists who rose like magic from the stage to provide musical interludes between the film entertainment.
The Shaftesbury Cinema, in Kingston Road, was one of the first picture houses in Portsmouth to have an organ on the premises, but it wasn't one of the magnificent Wurlitzer type, for it came from an organ school near Oxford Circus, London. The popular organist at the Shaftesbury was T Julian Smith.
The first purpose-built cinema organ in Portsmouth was a Christie, installed at the Regent Cinema (Gaumont) in London Road, North End, in 1928. Mr LS Barnard, of Havant, told me that the organists there over the years included Dudley Beaven, Reginald Bruce, Reginald Hayward and AW Lambert.
The Southsea Electric Cinema, in Fawcett Road, which opened in 1911, had many changes of name until its closure in 1940, as we will learn later in this section. It also had an organ of Dutch manufacture installed when it was the Commodore Cinema in 1931.
This organ, which was known as a Golden Oriele, was first played there by Peirson Webber, who was followed by fellow organists Lew Harris and Tom Lynn. Legend has it that this organ was so bad, it was eventually broken up and burnt in the boilers to keep the cinema warm. When it opened in 1937, a magnificent Compton organ was installed at the Ambassador Cinema (Odeon) at Cosham, with talented organist Thomas Grosch christening this musical beast and delighting the first audience there with his Phantom Piano organ novelty piece.
Organist David Richie, of Old Portsmouth, told me he was one of the last to play the organ at Cosham before it was removed. Mr Richie was also a great friend of renowned organist Reginald Porter Brown, who played the Compton Woner organ at the opening of the Savoy Cinema (ABC) in Commercial Road on July 17, 1937. Reginald Porter Brown, truly one of the organ greats, died at his home in Southampton in 1982. When the Compton was removed from the Savoy, it was transferred to the Baptist church in Devonshire Avenue, Southsea.

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