THE THEATRE ORGAN
PART TWO: BUILDERS OF THE THEATRE ORGANS
THIS PAGE IS WRITTEN IN CONJUNCTION WITH GLEN TWAMLEY (FRIENDS OF BEER WURLITZER)
PAGE FOUR: WURLITZER ORGANS IN SCOTLAND
There were four Wurlitzer Theatre Organs installed in Scotland and these were at:
- The Picture House Glasgow – installed on 6th August, 1925 and was the 5th Wurlitzer Theatre Organ to be installed in the U.K.;
- The Picture House Edinburgh – installed on 2nd October, 1925 and was the 6th such organ to be installed in the U.K.;
- The Kings Cinema Dundee – installed on 21st August, 1928 and was the 27th such organ to be installed in the U.K.; and
- The New Victoria Cinema Edinburgh – installed on 29th April, 1930 and was the 41st to be installed in the U.K.
The first Wurlitzer Theatre Organs installed in the U.K. were at The Picture House Walsall and The Palace Cinema Tottenham. As a result of their success with the cinema-going public, The Provincial Cinematograph Theatres (PCT), the first national cinema chain in the U.K., decided to order Wurlitzer Theatre Organs for their Picture Houses in Glasgow and Edinburgh. These Wurlitzer Theatre Organs were 2-manual, 8-ranks instruments and of the Style F type.
The organ at The Picture House Glasgow was opened by Jack Courtnay on the 8th October, 1925. The organ was removed in 1957 and, unfortunately most of it was broken up and sold for scrap.
The Wurlitzer Organ installed at The Picture House Glasgow with organist Frank Olsen – awaiting permission to reproduce this photograph from Scottish Cinemas
The organ installed at The New Picture House Edinburgh opened a month later with Reginald Foort at the console. Owning to a lack of funds and perhaps a lack of use, the instrument was sold back to The Wurlitzer Organ Company. At the factory, two additional ranks were added, and along with a new console, was then sold to The Granada Theatre Circuit and installed it at the Granada Theatre Kingston on the 23rd August, 1939. This installation is renowned for being the last to be undertaken in the U.K.
These photographs appear here with the permission of Mr. Clive Polden
Today, this organ resides in a private residence in Cornwall. Unfortunately I have not been able to find a photograph of this organ.
The organ installed at the Kings Cinema Dundee had 2-manuals and 6-ranks with a Style-165 console, which was the successor to the Style-D. This was opened on the 24th September, 1928 by the organist George Hunt. In 1961 the interior of this cinema was renovated and was re-opened as the Odeon Cinema. During the renovation, the organ was removed and was sadly broken up.
The Wurlitzer Theatre Organ installed at the New Victoria Edinburgh had been previously installed at the Embassy Theater Baltmore in 1926. However The Wurlitzer Organ Company repossessed it, and following this, it was reconditioned and, as a 2-manual, 10 rank organ together with a Style F ‘Special’ console, was opened by Leslie James at the New Victoria Edinburgh on 25th August, 1930.
In 1964, the New Victoria Edinburgh was renamed as an Odeon and the organ was removed and sold to a private buyer in Kincaldy who added an additional two ranks to it. In 1978, the organ was installed at the Civic Centre in East Kilbride where another rank was added and the console replaced with a larger 4 manual one. This modified organ was removed from the Civic Centre in 1999 and was unfortunately broken up and the numerous parts were sold separately and used as additions to other organs throughout the U.K.
The only Wurlitzer Theatre Organ that may be heard played today in Scotland is installed at Pollokshaw’s Burgh Hall in Glasgow.
The Pollokshaws Burgh Hall Wurlitzer Organ was originally installed in the Ritz Cinema Stockport in 1937, as a three manual, eight rank instrument and was opened by Wilfred Southworth. Following its removal from the cinema, The Scottish Cinema Organ Trust (SCOT) installed it at Clydebank Town Hall where the organist Doreen Chadwick opened it in September 1998.
At the Clydebank Town Hall, the organ suffered repeated damage from the flooding by the River Clyde. Eventually, the organ was removed from the Town Hall and following work to restore it, it was installed in Pollokshaws Burgh Hall. Today the organ now has 21 ranks and 3 manuals and is played regularly at concerts.
The photograph of Mr. Wolfe at the organ appears by permission of Mr. Duncan Sinclair on behaif of the Scottish Cinema Organ Trust. The photograph of the Wurlitzer Organ (Top Right) was taken by Mr. Aaron Hawthorne and it appears here with his permission. The photograph of Mr. Wolfe (Bottom Right) is from his wesbite.
Click here to listen to the Pollokshaws Wurlitzer Organ being played
Click here to see the photographs of The Organ & The Hall by Mr. John MacDonald
Click here to go to
PAGE FIVE of PART TWO:
WURLITZER ORGANS IN THE NETHERLANDS
I would especially like to thank Mr. Andrew Hawthorne, Mr. Duncan Sinclair and Mr. Clive Polden and all others for their help and kindness in producing this page.