Archive for the ‘Robinson Cleaver’ Category

(Harold) Robinson Cleaver, born in 1906 and known as Robbie, became a parish church organist at 9 years old. At 11, he played his first cinema organ at the Albert Hall, Sheffield. He went to the Royal Manchester College of Music at 19 and became an Associate of the Royal College of Organists at 21. In the early 1930s he was solo organist at Lonsdale Cinema, Carlisle and within three years he played 900 organ solos from memory.

He became organist of the new Regal Cinema, Bexleyheath at its opening in September 1934. The official souvenir guide says: “The Compton organ, with its wonderful Illuminated Console, marks the highest attainment yet achieved in the realm of music for the theatre. The Illuminated Console is fitted with an amazingly clever system of interior lighting which yields a remarkable range of colours and combinations of colours, all at the control of the Organist”.

In April 1939, civic dignitaries, ARP workers and war veterans held a meeting at the Regal Cinema, Bexleyheath. The organ can be seen in front of the stage. It would rise majestically from the depths when played.

Sadly the organ was destroyed when a bomb hit the Regal during the Second World War, although the Console was undamaged and was shipped to Sao Jorge Cinema in Lisbon (the organ survived there until 1982 when it was removed during a refurbishment). Robinson Cleaver also played for Granada cinemas in Welling, Woolwich, Dartford and Tooting. His wife Molly sometimes played duet with a piano attachment. Robinson Cleaver died in 1987.

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