The merry organ. You will recognise those words as part of the Holly and the Ivy Christmas carol, I am sure. It has been sung many, many times of late.

We decided we should go along to the Leisure Centre and listen. I do not know if the American Theatre Organ Society would call the mighty Woking Wurlitzer a merry organ but they do advertise it as bringing music for everyone.

Because of the recent death of Len Rawle I had looked out my file on this organ. I have a copy of the Gala Opening programme. It was held on August 16, 1995 in the presence of Cllr Neville Hinks, then mayor of Woking. 

So long ago and none of the family had ever been along to hear it. So we went. Some of our number reckoned it would be a quick in and out – “not really my sort of thing”. But you do not know until you have tried – and we stayed to the very end, enjoying every moment.

This organ, dating from 1937, is reckoned to be one of the best examples of a medium-sized Wurlitzer and was formerly installed in the Granada Cinema in Welling, Kent. 

Like all Wurlitzer pipe organs, it was built in the remarkably advanced factory, for the time, in North Tonawanda, USA. We had noticed Tonawanda cropping up in addresses concerning the organ and thought it a very un-English sounding name. Now we know why it was part of Len Rawle’s address.

The Wurlitzer Hall at Woking Leisure Centre is large: it is the former Projectile Hall. 

There was the organ, in front of a curtained-off area. It was obvious that the back of the organ could be opened. 

That, the curtains and the fact that the organ was bathed in a green light had me thinking of The Wizard of Oz. No wizard with ideas of grandeur but several wizards of the keyboard playing music from various genres. 

Who would have thought that the highly-pitched tinkly bit from the Harry Potter Hedwig’s Theme could be played on the same organ which could roar like a whole pride of hungry lions?

A screen allowed us to see the hand movements over the three banks of keys and all the stops – yes, very Wizard of Oz. With all those sounds literally at their fingertips, the musician is like a conductor and orchestra all in one: they command a gentle guitar, or a crashing sound which could, surely, only come from a complete orchestra.

The atmosphere was very friendly and many of the audience were members of ATOS. 

Your chance to form your own opinion comes on Saturday, February 10 at 7pm when Andrew Mix will give a concert of Music and Mirth. Admission is £12 on the door.

Check out or phone 07944 285266. If you sit towards the front you can also see the footwork – talk about serene swans paddling like mad beneath the surface!