Quentin Maclean was, in some respects, the most unlikely hero the Trocadero could have had. Born in 1896, Maclean studied organ under Straube and composition under Max Reger at Leipzig. Early cinema experience came when the scholarly Maclean toured Britain, accompanying the silent film 'With Allenby in Palestine'. In those days, silent film accompaniment was an art form in its own right and provided a worthy outlet for the talents of the gifted.
Europe's largest theatre organ was installed in 1928 in the palatial Regal Marble Arch, referred to only partly in jest by one noted organist as the 'Paddington Museum of Fine Art'. Maclean had a detailed hand in the specification of the fine instrument and opened the giant Christie pipe organ alongside Emmanuel Starkey's 'Regal Virtuosi'. Although early attempts at broadcasting the Christie were considered less than successful, Maclean recorded a number of hallmark classics, including Ride of the Valkyries and Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. Maclean had clearly arrived, and established a reputation as Britain's premier cinema organist. The then notoriously sniffy classical organ world also held him in high esteem, not least through Maclean's sheer ability at the classical repertoire.
In 1930, the Hyams brothers needed to find an organist for their magnum opus, the Trocadero Elephant and Castle, which was to open at the end of the year. "Who is the best cinema organist in the country?" asked one of the Hyams brothers; "Why, Quentin Maclean of course" came the answer.
That Maclean shone at the console of Europe's finest and largest Wurlitzer surprised few, but equally few were prepared for the way Maclean endeared himself to cinema-goers in the rather tough area of the Elephant and Castle. Maclean's adopted signature tune, 'Knocked 'em in the Old Kent Road' was played in a rumbustious but deceptively clever way and his refusal to neither patronize nor stoop to the lowest common denominator cemented the reputation he established at the Regal as the country's top organist. As well as the usual cinema interludes, Maclean broadcast and recorded frequently from the Trocadero as well as performing with noted orchestras of the day.
Mick Hyams, manager of the Trocadero, had certainly asked the right question in 1930 and his star employee remained at the Trocadero console for nearly nine years, becoming a local hero as well as a national star whose name is recalled to this day.
In yet another link between the Trocadero and the Troxy, when Mac vacated the Trocadero organ bench in 1939, Bobby Pagan moved over from the Troxy to provide continuity of excellence.