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Do you still listen to Norfolk’s oddest ever album?

PUBLISHED: 17:47 26 September 2018 | UPDATED: 09:46 27 September 2018

The album of Geoff Stephenson playing the Wurlitzer organ at Kitchen brothers garage in Diss. Picture: Acorn Records

The album of Geoff Stephenson playing the Wurlitzer organ at Kitchen brothers garage in Diss. Picture: Acorn Records

Archant

A taxi driver from Rotherham playing a giant Wurlitzer organ in a car showroom in Diss doesn’t sound like the makings of a sought after album.

One of the last cinema organists David Ivory, from Suffolk, played the Diss organ in the 1970s. Picture: Mechanical Music Museum TrustOne of the last cinema organists David Ivory, from Suffolk, played the Diss organ in the 1970s. Picture: Mechanical Music Museum Trust

But if you still own a copy of the Norfolk-made easy listening album Geoff Stephenson at the Organ of Kitchen Bros. Garage, Diss you might want to consider putting it on eBay where copies are in demand from collectors of vinyl oddities.

The 1972 album is an unusual echo from a time when the third largest Wurlitzer in Europe came to have pride of place at the garage of organ obsessed motor dealer brothers Revel and Derek Kitchen on Victoria Road. The large showroom had been built specially to house it.

Wurlitzer organ in the car showroom of Kitchen Bros. in Diss, October 1972. Picture: Archant LibraryWurlitzer organ in the car showroom of Kitchen Bros. in Diss, October 1972. Picture: Archant Library

The giant organ had been rescued from the Paramount Cinema in Newcastle by David Pawlyn, a renowned organ builder and campaigner to save Britain’s finest cinema and theatre instruments. It was restored and reinstalled in Diss, where it made its premiered on 15 October 1972.

David Ivory, of the Mechanical Music Museum Trust, based in Palgrave, said: “The Kitchen brothers were organ enthusiasts and got the chance of this really quite large Wurlitzer, several thousand pipes that had come from the Paramount Odeon in Newcastle.

The album of Geoff Stephenson playing the Wurlitzer organ in Diss features tracks like Lullaby of Broadway and Moonlight Serenade. Picture: Acorn RecordsThe album of Geoff Stephenson playing the Wurlitzer organ in Diss features tracks like Lullaby of Broadway and Moonlight Serenade. Picture: Acorn Records

“I played it quite a lot in the 1970s. It was fantastic to play. It was twice the size of most cinema organs. They used to get about 400 people to turn up for the concerts that they used to hold.”

To show off the organ Geoff Stephenson, who also made three volumes of recordings of organs at Thursford, was recorded playing it for an album.

Albums of organ music were hugely popular through the post-war period with these examples at the Mechanical Music Museum. Picture: Caroiline FittonAlbums of organ music were hugely popular through the post-war period with these examples at the Mechanical Music Museum. Picture: Caroiline Fitton

Mr Ivory, who is also patron of the British Theatre Organ Club, said: “Geoff Stephenson was a taxi driver from Rotherham who was also an organist in cinemas up north and was friendly with the Kitchen brothers.

“It is sort of end of the pier stuff musically. I suppose it is a quirky thing to come across now but it did sell very well at the time. I think they sold several hundred copies of it.”

How the end of the Wurlitzer organ at the Kitchen brothers garage on Victoria Road in Diss was covered in 1982. Picture: Archant LibraryHow the end of the Wurlitzer organ at the Kitchen brothers garage on Victoria Road in Diss was covered in 1982. Picture: Archant Library

Sought after by collectors of organ music and vinyl oddities, the album boasting songs like Moonlight Serenade and a selection from Sound Of Music, still fetches respectable prices whenever a copy appears on eBay.

The 1,350 pipes and ornate console of Diss’ mighty Wurlitzer were finally dismantled in 1982 when the instrument was sold to become the star attraction of a new entertainment complex in Northampton.

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