THE main photograph on this page was taken at the height of a huge home music craze of the 1970s.

By the beginning of that decade, developments in technology and manufacturing had shrunk the dimensions and cost of electronic organs so much they were a viable proposition for the home musician.

Musical effects previously only available on huge instruments in concert halls and theatres were available on organs which could easily fit into the corner of a living room.

Most also featured a wealth of automatic chords and rhythms which meant even one-finger players could make music.

Holmes Music in Faringdon Road, where the picture was taken, was at the forefront of feeding the trend in Swindon and several other locations across the region. Instruments were sometimes bought as fast as the showrooms were restocked.

The photograph is from a privately-produced book called The History of Our Family Businesses, in which founder John Holmes tells the company’s story from 1963 through to the present day.

A copy has been lodged with the Swindon Collection at the Central Library.

“The thing about an organ,” he said, “is that when you look at it, it seems very complicated, having two keyboards and a pedal board, yet they’re the easiest instruments to learn to play.”

The shop put instruments in specially-partitioned rooms, into which potential customers, some of whom who doubted their musical ability were ushered.

“I’d sit them on the stool and show them an easy method of playing. Within 10 minutes of coming in they’d be playing three chords with the left hand, the pedal board and playing a single finger melody with the right hand.

“To most people that was phenomenal - that they could play anything - so they wanted to know more.

“That was when they said, ‘Let’s book up and have some lessons,’ and away they went.”

The march of technology, which had paved the way for the home organ boom, also led to its doom.

The availability of cheap microchip technology in the 1980s meant much smaller and far cheaper instruments were available.

Many of the old instruments were scrapped, although some survived and occasionally turn up in charity and other second-hand shops.

The best models are prized by a growing number of present-day musicians looking for a retro sound.