The Moller in London
The New BBC Theatre organ No.2
The Moller comes to London
At the end of world war two, Reginald Foort realised it would be too expensive and impractical to resume touring with such a huge pipe organ so, having had it on 'loan' for six years, the BBC bought the five manual Möller outright in 1946 and it became the BBC Theatre Organ. Its permanent home became the Jubilee Studios on City Road in Hoxton in London's East End, a converted former church and Sunday School, and for the next 17 years, literally hundreds of broadcasts, mostly live, were relayed from there featuring virtually all the well-known theatre organists of the day. Sandy Macpherson had followed Reginald Foort has official BBC Theatre Organist and, from his office in the basement of the Jubilee Studios, he and his long-time secretary, Joyce Hepple, would 'invite' organists to come and broadcast on the Moller. Sandy Macpherson really became a household name during his 25 years as staff organist with many popular programmes of his own such as 'From My Postbag', 'At Your Request', 'Chapel In The Valley' and many more.
As can be seen from these photos, the huge console of the Moller could be quite intimidating, particularly to organists who were used to playing much smaller instruments! A friend and colleague, organist Eric Lord, sadly no longer with us, used to say that, to him, all the organ stops seemed to hang down like bunches of bananas! Note the red and green lights to the left of the keyboards which were to tell the organist whether he was 'on' or 'off' the air! If some organists were slightly in awe of the Moller, imagine how it looked to a small eight year old boy - which I was when I first played it! My grandfather, a Methodist Minister, had often engaged Sandy Macpherson to play a concert at one or other of his churches and the family came to know him quite well. During a childhood visit to London with my parents, my father arranged to meet up with Sandy at the Jubilee Studios and, having already developed an interest in the organ, I was taken along. I remember being lifted onto the bench in front of all those keyboards and stops and Sandy saying, "there, see what you can do with that!".
In 1963, the BBC's lease on the Jubilee Studios building ran out and, although there was talk of moving the organ to the studios at WhiteCity, they eventually decided to part company with it and it was bought by Radio Hilversum in Holland. It was re-installed, strangely, in another former church and, until 1974, was heard from time to time on Dutch radio, although nothing like as frequently as when it had been the BBC Theatre Organ. Some British players were invited over to Holland to play again the instrument they had known so well in London.