Byron celebrating 10 years of wizardry on the organ at Eden Grove
Published on: 13 May 2013
A one-man orchestra who has delighted audiences in Filton and north Bristol for years is celebrating the 10th year since a unique instrument was first heard in this area.
Byron Jones, also known as the Welsh Wizard, has been thrilling concert-goers on the 1927 ‘Wizard Compton’ at Eden Grove Methodist Church Hall since he and his team completed the painstaking reconstruction of the organ.
The instrument was the 7th Compton built by organ makers John Compton of London, and was used at the Rialto, Leytonstone, until 1973.
It was then bought by a music-loving priest in Hornchurch, Essex, before it was earmarked to be sent to Australia to be used as spares.
It was then that Byron, a professional musician for 46 years, stepped in and took the organ in bits to his home in Filton Avenue.
He carefully rebuilt it before installing it in the hall at Eden Grove Methodist Church where it now sits, rising up from under the stage like a scene from Phantom of the Opera for performances.
It is thought to be the only church hall in the country with this kind of organ.
Yet it is no ordinary organ. Not only does it have the usual array of instrumental sounds, but an intricate network of bellows and wires means that when Byron presses a key on the organ, a real drum, whistle or xylophone is played automatically.
These other instruments are displayed around the Wizard Compton with special lighting effects, creating a magnificent spectacle during performances.
Byron organises several concerts a year at Eden Grove, often inviting top organists to play on the Wizard Compton.
And the instrument is often used as it would have been originally, accompanying silent movies with Byron improvising on the keyboards. They have also raised thousands for charity, with among this year’s chosen beneficiaries the Motor Neurone group which meets at Eden Grove.
Byron, who performs across the UK and USA, said: “We originally heard it was going to be sold for parts in Australia so be bought it and for two and a half years it was in pieces in our house in Filton Avenue.
“Eventually Ray Hulbert suggested putting it in to Eden Grove and while we thought it would just be here for a couple of years, it’s stayed ever since and we’ve brought a lot of people in to our concerts.
“I must pay tribute to Gordon Haley who works on the tuning of the instrument and also Bob Ball and Terry Ahearn who have done so much work building it up.”